Thursday, 22 December 2011

Where is UKIP?


I had been seeing UKIP’s support slowly climb up the polls but it doesn’t seem to have happened in the recent Feltham by election. So what’s wrong?

I have no connection with UKIP beyond occasionally voting for them, neither do I have any other political affiliations, so I have no horse in the race and no great political experience. Yet sometimes it’s easier to see things from outside, so here are some random observations about UKIP from what I think is an external perspective.

The MSM don’t take UKIP seriously. It’s not just their being starved of publicity, although they are, but more importantly they are almost invariably condescendingly treated as the lightweight humorous entry to round up the EU news. Rather like Melvin Bragg might interview a Morris side doing the stick dance on the South Bank Show to lighten the end of the programme. UKIP are rarely allowed to make a serious statement, just brought in for the EU elite bashing act.  (Actually that’s unfair, Melvyn Bragg would probably be genuinely interested and polite to a Morris side).

Bashing the EU elite is vital but, maybe partly because they have allowed themselves to fall into the above role, UKIP comes across as a one trick pony.  Important as the EU has become not everyone realises its reach or its malign influence on all aspects of our lives, many voters don’t care. Even if they know who Von Rompuy is they probably don’t understand his influence. Yet every time I hear UKIP or Nigel Farage it’s about the subject of the EU, and worse than that, usually the internal workings taking place in a foreign land. In Nigel Farage UKIP have a superb orator who can speak plainly and forcibly, and he can easily connect with the electorate. Yet he is virtually never heard on the subjects that occupy other UK parties or affect people’s day to day lives. UKIP may realise that it all comes back to the EU and are attacking the root of the problem, I realize that too, but I wonder how many voters do? Or that UKIP actually have a set of domestic policies?

UKIP’s message has become intrinsically a negative one, always about the things we don’t want. Popularity isn’t easily gained by harping on negatives, there is no feelgood factor dealing in negatives. The positives on offer tend to be semi-abstract concepts like Sovereignty or ‘self-determination’. These are not things that people can easily extrapolate into how it makes their lives better or worse. (In any case if most  politicians are self-serving crooks - the general assessment I think - who cares whether an EU bureaucrat is elected or nominated?) What matters is now much tax we pay, whether there is job security, where the next mortgage payment will come from, the cost of transport and keeping warm? These all have an EU aspect yet UKIP never make the connection between these real daily issues affecting everyone’s life and the EU’s dread hand on the tiller.

I have no answers or advice for UKIP, they must do what they must do, I'm just a bloke with a computer in a room. But I do wish they would sometimes start from the other end of the argument, for example taking a topic that really annoys people, like energy price, then working it back to show how the EU has caused it.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

So much for standing up for moral values and the silent majority -updated

You get arrested!

So it seems the sweary non-ticket holding student had been up all night revising. Was diabetic but hadn't bothered to eat properly all day, and had been drinking, all of which affected his mental state. And it wasn't his fault he had been sold the wrong ticket. Victimhood poker at its best.
When I was a student in the 60s we were rebels, we did some daft things, even a few borderline illegal ones, but always we were responsible enough and polite enough never to be confused with the anti-social feral underclass.

Friday, 16 December 2011

He might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb


Like most people round here I have been reading about and pondering Cameron’s ‘veto’ for a few days.

I usually apply the principle of Occam’s Razor when trying to understand such news. I tend to think Cameron is weak willed, self serving and mostly out of his depth in the Machiavellian conspiring of the EU, thus to me his ‘veto’ was basic botched politics and self preservation. Having cornered himself between the ‘rock’ of the EU elite and the ‘hard place’ of the eurosceptics he decided he would prefer to remain PM and avoid going down in history as the man who destroyed the Conservative party. Yes I know that’s simplistic, but it will do for me.

The views of Richard North (whose blog I highly respect) and others, questioning whether there was ever a treaty, and if not how could he veto it seem to me to risk courting diversions from what is important. While we certainly do need to know exactly what happened and just how much was play acting (most?) and it’s instructive to know how deluded the MSM (and parliament itself) has become I feel it may be a diversion from examining where we are now in the wider context. 

I find IanPJ’s suggestion that the City of London has some very special protections to be a fascinating hypothesis, and to my mind may well be spot on. There is a sense to the idea and it fully explains why Cameron, for what must be the first time in his stint as PM, actually took a definite stand on anything.  If IanPJ is correct then at least we know Cameron won't back down, which would be useful to know.

However, I have a simplistic view of the ‘veto’ and ‘treaty’ and ‘reason’. Whether it was a paper treaty or simply a powerpoint of what Merkozy intended, whether it was eurosceptic power or City of London status doesn’t change where we are now or the basics of the situation. The basics, as I see them, is that the EU elite, on the excuse of strengthening the Eurozone, were determined to extend financial control and tax powers into all EU countries, including the non-euro ones. Cameron said no, he wouldn’t play, and was (for once) correct to do so.

My big worry is that he will now allow the threats from the EU and Lib-Dems to pressure him into backtracking and boot-licking to try and regain his ‘influence’. I see today even Angela is trying to be nice to him. We know of course that he won’t get any influence back, he never really had any in the first place. Neither will his ‘influence’ or a 'place at the table' change the EU’s long term intention to extend controls. In fact just the opposite, such behavior will simply weaken him again and put him back where the EU want him.

I desperately hope he will stand firm. It seems likely already that most other non-euro countries are having doubts about the proposed treaty changes. Ordinary people on the ground all over Europe are definitely having doubts, even in Germany they have come close to aparliamentary defeat on the issue. 

If Cameron holds firm and continues to oppose the spread of these EU finance intrusions he could become the beacon for European democracy and self-determination, a beacon of opposition to EU control and bureaucracy across Europe. It may be one government against 26 for now, but it won’t stay that way, and as we all know governments in Europe don’t speak for their citizens nowadays, so he could easily end up speaking for half the population of Europe.

What he should also do is take advantage of his current position. The EU elite hate him. They are already hitting back and will try everything they can to belittle and marginalize the UK. So he may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb. He should go back, very apologetically and politely of course, and tell them firmly that as well as their misplaced financial controls we will exit from the working time directive, the European arrest warrant, the social clauses, the fishing regulations and everything else that makes us uncompetitive.

Get all the unpleasantness out of the way in one fell swoop.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Tale of Two Futures


One.

Joe cycled home as quickly as he could. This week the electricity rota for his street provided power between 6 and 12pm and he needed as much time as possible to work on his project. He had hoped to finish the job in October but unfortunately there had been little wind that week and the reduced voltage available had not been enough to run the lathe. 

The old generator he had found while scavenging in the disused factory zone would be a godsend for the cold nights of December and January if he could rebuild it in time.  All he needed was enough power to run the gas boiler for about 10 minutes each hour to keep the vegetable growing room warm. Somehow the inspectors had missed the boiler when they did the governmental energy equipment audit on the house, and although disused for almost 10 years he thought it should work, and as a bonus the extra electricity would keep the laptop charged so he could study longer. 

Fortunately he had occasional use of the company car, and each time he had siphoned a very small amount of petrol from the tank, adding a few extra miles to the odometer by connecting his laptop to the service connector each time just in case the energy auditors did a spot check on his returns. Now he had enough fuel for quite a few hours careful use of the generator.
He would of course have to be very careful. Home electricity generation was a serious crime, and there were plenty of people would inform if he should accidently switch on a bright light during the street’s off hours when only government regulated low power battery lamps were allowed. But the generator was well hidden and soundproofed so he should be safe.

The great crash of 2013 had been a terrible time. The government had spent so much money trying to save the Euro and avert the crash that when it eventually happened the country was completely bankrupt and with huge foreign debts. The EU emergency committee took over almost immediately and had instantly nationalised all property and the banking sector. They sequestered 90% of all bank accounts and pension savings and instigated a 90% tax rate. The meager citizen’s income they paid out to every household in compensation and in lieu of all other pensions and benefits was barely enough to exist. Yet compared to many people he realized he was very fortunate. Because he had a job he could keep 10% of his earnings to supplement the government handout, and more importantly with the children being at home he had been allowed to remain living in his house and had access to his small workshop.
With all imports closed down to prevent money going abroad and industry dependent on limited and unreliable wind energy the economy, such as it was, was completely stagnant. 60% unemployment and acute austerity measures meant there was no money for luxuries. Private cars were of course highly regulated, and in any case there was no petrol except for the lucky few granted ‘needs rations’.

Before he could escape to his project he had to help his daughter. Her school homework was an essay about the benefits of the EU and how the world had been made safe by reducing carbon use. Joe remembered the good times before 2010 when they had money, could heat the house, own a family car and could take holidays and enjoy days out. Of course he dare not contradict what his daughter had been taught, it would immediately trigger a visit from the child protection agency if her teacher detected any unauthorised value judgments or reactionary ideas in her work.

Or

Two 

Bert took his new car out of the garage ready to take the family for their day out at the theme park to celebrate his daughter’s birthday. It had been a very difficult few years but at last things were looking better and he could look forward to a future for his family.

Back in early 2012 when the People Against Fuel Poverty campaign started up everyone treated it as just another protest group. But the shocking spectacle of a group of impoverished pensioners from Tyneside who drove their minibus into Parliament square and set themselves alight during the coldest February on record had galvanized the nation. It had turned a protest group into a guerilla army, smashing windfarms, holding daily protests about fuel costs, occupying government offices and making city centers into no-go areas. 

The imposition of martial law had just inflamed the situation and the Con-Lib coalition broke up very quickly. New elections, staged against a background of civil unrest, changed the face of the UK political scene. The established parties saw their support halved and the new parliament contained many independents, some supported by action groups such as the EDL, and a good number of UKIP members. 

The new coalition under Iain Duncan Smith, being dependent on UKIP and independent support, had no choice but completely change direction. The complete cessation of all domestic green taxes and energy subsidies for 5 years along with the immediate 25% drop in energy prices went down very badly with the Greens and left wing, but brought some order back. 

Withdrawal from the EU followed soon after when Greece, Italy and Ireland left the Eurozone. For a while the country was in financial chaos, much industry and commerce came to a halt for 3 months as the EU countries tried to sideline the UK, it was grim and frightening, but things soon started to improve. The opening of the shale gas deposits took a couple of years but with the supply of abundant cheap energy jobs, manufacturing and exports surged. The UK was wonderfully situated to act as a bridge between the Western European trade group comprising Ireland, the Nordic countries, Spain and Portugal and the now expanding commonwealth trade block.

The new car was a bit of a luxury, but these high efficiency cars, designed to run on liquid gas, were so clean running and cheap to run that family and social life had never been better.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Drama and Quiz


I was originally wondering last week how Cameron would sort out his conflicting loyalties: Those to his EU friends, his city friends and his eurosceptic backbenchers. Given the stage drama, the posturing, and the wishful thinking of all the MSM reports about the EU it’s difficult to tell what’s actually happened, but for once it does at least look as though he has leaned in the right direction. 

It would be nice to think he was finally and at last acting in the best interests of the country but I can’t quite bring myself to accept that. I’m more inclined to think he is operating in the best interests of David Cameron, and has decided he would prefer to keep the Conservative party whole for a while and remain as PM followed by a nice city job when he leaves parliament rather than depend on the EU for his future sinecure.

So I’m ignoring the EU pantomime productions for a while and looking at the other end of the EU spectrum. One of the things that must happen to allow the UK to flourish is a reduction in bureaucratic control, micro-regulation and its inbuilt inefficiency, this ‘quiz’ illustrates a trivial example. 

It probably costs a fraction of a penny to affix the sticker with the warnings shown, yet someone had to design them, specify them and co-ordinate their use across the EU, then every example of the (millions of) product have to have them shown and council staff have to check they are there and the product is therefore legal.

This is a very common item, something almost all households own and rely on daily, even though they may rarely look at it. So the question, for which there is no prize beyond being allowed to feel smug, is to identify the item and what the symbols actually mean.  And no I don’t have all the answers, the ‘don’t chase children’, (or is it ‘run like hell’ ) one seems particularly obscure and the ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ one is just silly.

The other question, given the obscurity of the symbols - Are the millions of such stickers really justified?