Saturday, 8 May 2010

Oh the irony - tomorrow is Europe Day

You may have missed the mood of national joyousness and festivity, the streams of bunting in the streets and the circle of stars fluttering from every flagpole, the co-ordinated street parties and all the rest - for tomorrow is Europe Day, and not only that, but the 60th anniversary of Saint Robert Schumann founding the Federast State.

And after tomorrow the Federast diplomatic service comes into formation and Nanny Ashton encourages us in her address;
Europeans are united in the way they perceive foreign policy and the external action. There is consensus for more cooperation, coherence, visibility and joint action. The European Union is reshaping its capacity to respond adequately to the new challenges. At the heart of these changes is the European External Action Service (EEAS), one of the central innovations of the Lisbon Treaty that came into force on 1st December 2009.

The EEAS will strengthen the impact of EU values and interests around the globe. It will enable theEU to have a more ambitious, effective, coherent and visible foreign policy. The EEAS will be our principal interface with international partners; i.e. Europe’s “eyes, ears and face” in our day-to-day dealings abroad. It will promote comprehensive policies in a strategic manner. I am convinced that the EEAS will bring new level of comprehension and cooperation in our partnerships, to the benefit of all of us.

The EEAS will be set up 60 years after the adoption of the Schuman declaration, very much in its spirit.

Happy Europe Day!

Pass the sick-bag, someone.

Stocktaking

With the benefit of a good night's sleep and time for reflection, here's where I think we are

Cameron's campaign

The Conservatives campaign was uninspired, and the stars were the posters rather than the politicians. With the exception of Michael Gove, the shadow cabinet seemed invisible. The 'big society' thing was just too cerebral for the voting public; what they wanted was the promise of instant wealth through enterprise, another 'Sid', another Right To Buy. More than that, I don't think they trusted a party that avoided the three big issues of the economy, Europe and immigration.

But whether the Conservatives would have done much better if, as Norman Tebbit and Simon Heffer would have it, they campaigned on traditional Tory values rather than the soft centre ground I really don't know. Those are my policies, for sure, but I have the feeling they would have failed to connect with voters even more than the chosen course of action.

Localism

One of the things that has struck me is the extent to which local voters felt confident enough to make seemingly perverse choices, with local factors overcoming tribal party loyalties. This wasn't the triumph of the independents, but the character of individual candidates rather than their party affiliation seemed to matter for the first time. Jacqui Smith and Peter Robinson - bent bastards both - were thrown out. As was Ann Keen. Yet in other cases where an incumbent MP had proved a good constituency asset, popular locally, voters chose to overlook their expenses misbehaviour.

Voting reform

I'm opposed to PR generally because it breaks the local link between the MP and the constituency and gives power to the dead parties. Having said that, the AV system has just elected our Mayor here in Lewisham, a run-off between Labour and the LibDems; here's the figures

Labour: 47,861 1st choice + 4,670 2nd choice = 52,531
LibDems: 26,445 1st choice + 10,001 2nd choice = 36,446

Now this doesn't look too bad; I could accept simple AV in place of FPTP for Parliamentary elections. The local link remains, as does the character of the candidate. But no party top-up lists, no AV+, no national PR.

We also desperately need to equalise our constituencies in terms of the electoral quota. Millions of people have moved out of moribund Labour areas into prosperous Conservative ones, yet the number of MPs each area returns have remained unchanged. This offends any notion of fairness.

Postal voting on demand has been massively abused, largely by Asian immigrants in Labour areas. We need to rethink this alongside a one-off 'combing out' exercise to remove fictitious electors from the registers; the next registration round should be supported by either a birth certificate or passport, and have to be made in person. Once verified, and as long as a voter remains at the same address, no further check would be made. Only Commonwealth citizens with proof of immigration status should be permitted to register - with a 'stop' date coterminous with their visa expiry.

And returning officers need their arses kicked if they failed to make adequate provision for voting. This is an easy one; just ban the guilty ones from ever acting as an electoral officer again. This will hurt them badly, and frighten the rest into not repeating the mistake.

The Political Class

The election has dealt a major blow to the political class, though it hasn't been a catharsis; we still hate them. The public have gone into slow burn, and having got the bastards on the back foot are waiting and watching.

Friday, 7 May 2010

If Brown hasn't resigned by 18.00, I foresee trouble

The people of Britain have spoken - and they've rejected Labour and the LibDems both. If Labour supporters can't hear that verdict as clearly as the rest of us, if Brown attempts to form a coalition government with Clegg and struggle on, we're heading into real trouble.

Brown has only one realistic option - to offer his resignation to the Sovereign. If he hasn't done so by the time of this evening's main news broadcasts then Paul Stephenson would be well advised to cancel all police leave this weekend, for I foresee real trouble ahead.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Predictions

OK, I'm probably going to be out by a mile, but here goes;

1. Conservatives - 36%, Lib Dems - 27.5%, Labour - 24.5%

2. Conservatives 318 seats, Labour 206 seats, Lib Dems 94 seats - Cameron 8 seats short of a majority

3. Cameron to form next government with Ulster Unionists in support

A cogent and compelling case against Labour / LibDems

I had contemplated breaking the '12' rating of this blog by reproducing the photograph from today's 'Sun' used to illustrate their point about John Locke. Or rather the quotes from 'Poppy' on the subject; no, not a domestic pet but a Page Three Girl. Both Harman and Clegg, the Sun says, want to condemn its Page Three Girls to the dole queue - so vote Cameron to save them.

The illustration - here - of a group of girls universally endowed with 'outies' proudly pointing skywards must indeed be a provocation to women such as Ms Harman whom age and gravity have left with 'downies' if not downright Spaniel's ears.

However, as 'Poppy' says, "The basis of Lockean thought is his theory of the Contract of Government, under which all political power is a trust for the benefit of the people. His thinking underpins our ideas of national identity and society. Please don't let those who seek to ban our beauty win."

And that, I think, is a cogent and compelling reason not to vote Labour or Libdem.

Right. Off to vote.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Now's the time to give Labour a kicking for the pain to come

Some years ago I spent a week driving a huge old Steenbeck editing table at the Imperial War Museum's annex where their film archives are managed. I had miles of film to get through to find the twelve minutes or so of 1918 footage that I needed, and many hours passed in a cycle of spooling-up and holding the FF lever at full throttle. Cinematography was then in its infancy, and group shots tended to be posed and formulaic, as if the subjects were posing for a formal portrait, albeit a moving portrait.

Two cans in particular were different. Recording the Home Front in 1918, they were shot in close to a fly-on-the-wall style, and even without sound the things one could read from the faces of those captured chilled me to the marrow. Here were people who had undergone four years of warfare, of total national mobilisation, of food shortages, of the unremitting toil of sixty-hour working weeks with never a day's break, year after year; their nation was bankrupt, and without the USA's (costly and opportunistic) assistance Britain would have collapsed financially. They had given everything in the cause of the war, and had largely borne its unimaginable costs. Every family, every person in that footage, had been touched by grief. Nearly a million men dead, and five million damaged and disabled.

What was on their faces was utter exhaustion, their minds and bodies numbed and wearied, with just their will overcoming the pain in their limbs and their hearts. Their world was drab and utilitarian, unpainted and unmaintained, worn and shabby. What they didn't know was that a global Influenza pandemic was just about to hit, and tens of thousands of them, at their lowest ebb, would be carried off to the grave.

The contrast with just a few years before was stark; here was Britain at its zenith in the Edwardian age, prosperous and confident, with growing social progress and rapid advances in science, technology and medicine, new built and gleaming, white muslin and bright flowers in the Sun.

It's this scale of change that Britain is facing again, now. The pain to come will be sharp and deep, and will challenge the nation to find again those reserves of courage and endurance that we must depend on to see us through, however dispirited, however exhausted, however weary we may become. And because of Labour's stunning economic incompetence, their waste, their foolishness it will be longer and harder than it would otherwise have been.

Tomorrow is Britain's chance to give Labour the kicking they so richly deserve, for all the pain to come. Don't miss the opportunity.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Voting fraud - recent history

I've blogged on this before; here are a few excerpts;

In 2001 the Labour government introduced postal and proxy voting on demand. In 2003 and 2004 the Electoral Commission called on the government to tighten checks on postal and proxy voting - and was ignored. The results have been clear to see;
  • On 4/4/05 a judge declared void two local election results in Birmingham because of Labour postal vote fraud and said the evidence of fraud "would disgrace a banana republic"
  • On 8/4/05 a Labour councillor in Blackburn was jailed for stealing 233 postal votes
  • On 14/4/05 the Head of Birmingham's electoral team was suspended following the discovery of 1,000 uncounted postal votes
  • In May 2005 police were investigating 25 cases of electoral fraud in 19 constituencies
  • In April 2006 police were investigating postal vote fraud in Tower Hamlets, six other London boroughs and Birmingham
  • In May and June 2006 police were called to investigate intimidation and vote rigging in Surrey, Coventry, London and Birmingham.
In 2007 the Electoral Commission used NOP to estimate the extent of false registrations; in some voting districts, it was estimated that electoral registers were only 60% accurate.

In 2005, Labour ministers told Parliament that electoral fraud was 'very rare'. In 2006 the Electoral Commission received a file from the Crown Prosecution Service that detailed 390 cases of electoral fraud between 2000 and 2006.

In 2008 the Rowntree Trust produced a report 'Purity of Elections in the UK: Causes for Concern' that detailed serious failings and details of electoral fraud. The report found that postal and proxy voting had risen from just 2% of votes prior to Labour's introducing 'on demand' availability to 15% in 2005, with commensurate opportunities for large-scale fraud.

All Commonwealth citizens, whether they are in the UK legally or not, are entitled to vote in UK general elections. There is no checking of immigration status on registration.

Isn't it time we ended Labour's fouling and corruption of all we hold valuable in this nation?

"There's something wrong with our bloody opinion polls today..."

This is heretical territory, but if there's one tale that's been repeated time after time by those out on the election trail, from every party, it's that what they find on the doorstep doesn't reflect the opinion polls. Even Jackie Ashley in the Guardian gave a coded warning that things could be much worse for Labour than the polls suggested. The polls, I think, have failed to capture the national mood of anti-politics, and perhaps anything could happen on Thursday. Your guess is no better or worse informed than the foremost TV pundits.

And remember how wrong the polls were in 1992; out of 50 published polls during the election period, 39 predicted a vote share that would have resulted in a hung Parliament, eight suggested an outright Labour win and only three predicted a Conservative majority.

Interesting times.

Electoral violence and intimidation in Bow

There have been problems with violence from Bangladeshi youths in East London for some time now. The number of Jack the Ripper walking tours has dropped substantially since Asian youths showed their objection at this 'trespass' on their territory by stoning tour parties of elderly tourists. The friendly sound of Bow bells has been replaced by the crow-like screech of the muezzin from the mosque. This is the sort of place they carry Diane Abbot around on a palanquin to the sound of praise-songs. This is a part of England that has been colonised by an alien people, and is now as lost to us as Calais.

It was surely naivety or foolishness then that drove the Independent's Jerome Taylor to walk about here alone yesterday, following up the voting fraud stories. He forgot the third characteristic of elections in Bangladesh - that along with bribery and fraud, violence also helps secure a 'democratic' ballot. The Bengali youths kicked the shit out of him.

Bangladeshi democracy and 7m errors on the electoral roll

Democracy in Bangladesh involves a lot of bribery and a lot of electoral fraud. If one man one vote is good, then five must be better. It's a cultural thing. And to coin a saying, you can take the voter out of Bangladesh but you can't take Bangladesh out of the voter; the Mail reports this morning on widespread Bangladeshi postal voting fraud in the East end of London and elsewhere.

And it's by no means just the Bangladeshis who are at it. Labour's introduction of postal votes for all has given the UK greater scope for electoral personation than Iraq or Afghanistan, and this election will be sure to produce a record crop of electoral frauds as ethnic groups and Labour cabals (and yes, it is Labour 99% of the time) across the land attempt to seize municipal treasuries in areas with council elections or push a favoured cousin towards the Parliamentary trough.

Michael Pinto-Duschinsky has estimated that errors on the UK's electoral roll could be as high as 7m; 3.5m on the register who shouldn't be, and 3.5m missing who should be.

And if that doesn't take us straight into banana republic territory, I don't know what does.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Meanwhile in Hungary ...


The modern Magyar Garda ....

In case you'd missed it, the right-wing Fidesz party gained a two-thirds majority in the second round of voting in Hungary's elections, thus avoiding having to enter a coalition with the Nazi Jobbik party. Good news for us all.

Jobbik are the successors to the wartime Arrow Cross, allies of Nazi Germany and responsible for the slaughter of many of Hungary's Jews. Jobbik comes complete with its own brownshirts, the Magyar Garda, who wear armbands as close to the illegal Arrow Cross symbols as they can get. Their credo is one of bile and hatred towards both Jews and gypsies, and there have been six recent murders of gypsies. Nasty indeed.

We really should be grateful that the BNP is run by Nick Griffin rather than someone with any ability.

... and the illegal wartime Arrow Cross flag

It's the wrong immigration, not immigration, that's the problem

As Channel 4 and the ippr found, there's no problem at all with half our non-EU immigrants. They're the ones from India, the US, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and suchlike places. They earn above the UK average and make a positive contribution to the UK's per capita GDP. By the same token, there's no problem with half our EU immigrants, either; the French, Germans, Italians, Danes and Netherlanders who come here to live and work likewise add to our per capita GDP and help make our cities exciting global hubs.

As far as legal immigrants go, it's the others that are the problem. At the outside, there are those who actually decrease our wealth; from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, Bulgaria, Romania and the Balkans. Poorly educated, with little capacity to learn or upskill, often burdened by primitive customs and beliefs, frequently semi-criminal by inclination, they will crowd-out our own poor from public services and facilities. We're mad to let them in, but they're legal.

Then there are the legal in-betweens, neither as national groups making a contribution to PC GDP or detracting from it. They have a neutral economic effect. Here are the commonwealth Africans, the Portuguese, the Poles and those from the Baltic states. They have fairly low paid jobs in the NHS, construction or service sectors, or they're on benefits. Unlike the 'takers', they're willing to integrate, don't colonise parts of our nation with squalid ghettoes and are about as law abiding as we ourselves are.

Then there are the illegals. Contrary to popular belief, most are not smuggled through Dover in lorries but are over-stayers of one variety or another. We don't know how many there are because the Tories abolished exit controls; we count them all in, but don't count any out. If you come from a nation where you can happily change your name and date of birth every week, coupled with a long tradition of document forgery and petty fraud, and an established network of cooperative co-nationals already in place you'll find it easy to overstay in the UK.

So how many Nigerians are there in the UK? Well, the GLA estimated in a confidential economics paper that some 20,000 have settled in my bit of South London since 2001, and seeing all the village girls on the buses I can believe it. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also thinks that the UK is full of Nigerian over-stayers, estimating that there are between 800,000 and 3m Nigerians living in the UK. The Office for National Statistics depends on Nigerians honestly filling out census forms and leaving the UK when their visas expire, so they reckon there are only 140,000 here (that's the figure that Labour will pick). A further economic study on money transfers out of the UK - most Nigerians will remit cash back home, either by Western Union or by giving bundles of notes to another Nigerian to carry home - suggested there were probably around a million Nigerians in the UK.

Finally there are the asylum seekers. Kurds, Afghans, Iranians, Sudanese and the like. They're only a problem for two reasons; one, that our EU partners haven't done enough to stop them getting to the UK and two a series of nonsensical legal judgements based on an assumption of zero risk to the applicant if returned. No one faces zero risk, FFS.

OK, with apols for the gross national stereotypes, a sort of shorthand necessary for blog pieces, you can see the problem clearly. This makes the solutions clear.

1. An immediate halt to the legal 'takers'
2. The immediate reintroduction of exit controls
3. The rigorous combing-out of over-stayers and illegals with no amnesty
4. Parliament to set conditions for asylum seekers

These are tough times. We need tough measures.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Politics free day

No politics all day, just a pile of CDs I haven't heard for a long while. And I think I've cracked the rudder. The existing long pintle is heavily made and well thought-out, so it was a case of designing a rudder and tiller to fit.

Keeping it as simple as possible, I've got it down to seven pieces cut from 5mm mild steel sheet, a couple of bits from 1/2" bar to be machined, a 2" plank of Iroko for the stock and a piece of Ash for the tiller. Now I can cut and rout the timber, I can ask my brother to machine the gudgeons and I'm told the fabrication shop next to the boatyard can make a decent job of the cutting and welding.

Excellent.




In praise of British engineering

The new boat has a name. It is Gary C. Sawyer's suggestion Anna. Who as well as being an Anglian king has a name that I won't sound like a lunatic when spelling phonetically over the VHF to harbour traffic control. Good pick, Gary. Anyway, this is about Anna's engine. And rudder.

If you're buying a new boat engine these days for a small coastal sea boat you'll probably go for one of the marine engines based on the Kubota diesel lump that powers the mini diggers that dig up your street every month. A Beta or a Nanni. For Anna it would be a 3 cylinder 719cc block producing about 20hp and weighing 104kg, and so small, neat and compact that you could almost fit it in the bilge. But Anna's already got an engine; it's a massive iron lump weighing 200kgs with the gearbox, two cylinders of over 600cc each and producing 23hp. And it's the size of Jonah Lomu, with enough torque to pull your granny away from Coronation Street.

The Lister-Petter TS2 is a quintessentially British engine. It does away with all that nonsense of an indirect sea-water cooling system, and even a fresh-water cooling system by cleverly using a fan blade fixed around the flywheel to blow air over itself. And it hasn't got a single bit of electronics anywhere. In fact, it wears its electrics - alternator, starter motor and sensors - like a duchess wears pearls; more because they're expected than necessary. You can strip all the electrics off, if you like, until you're left with a bare engine, a fuel tank and a starting handle. And it will work perfectly. Ah, reader, the joy of gently turning a well-lubricated engine over by hand with the decompression levers open; the gentle tick gloop catch tick that brings a deep contentment to the soul.

The Americans are loopy about Listers. They scavenge them from old agricultural machinery and restore them to that uniquely American standard of perfection. Then post long videos on YouTube of them running. Seriously. And yes, I can understand the joy.

Anyway, Anna's engine is coming on. I may even post a video of it running. But today when I'd planned to clear and degrease the bilges I think I'll design a replacement for the missing rudder instead.

Life is good.

Thieves who want more; bent ex-MPs standing for election

As Peter Oborne points out in the Mail today, a number of thieving, corrupt scum ex-MPs have got the front to stand again for election, amongst them Francis Maude, ex-Squeaker Bercow, Greg Barker, Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears, Sandra Gidley, Paul Holmes and Richard Younger-Ross.

This means our next Parliament could be a bit like putting first-time juvenile offenders in the same prison as seasoned old lags. The old thieves will boast that they got away with hundreds of thousands by lying and fraud, and the newbies will comb through the new rules avariciously seeking loopholes.

Unless of course the voters in their constituencies do the honourable thing and turf the thieving scum out.