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Saturday, 1 December 2012

Closing Labour's immigration doors

The dramatic recent falls in immigration are being linked in the press solely with this government's commendable actions in closing one of Labour's biggest open gates - the bogus 'business studies' colleges. With a right to issue visas, 'students' mainly from Africa and the Indian sub-continent paid their dosh to these back-doors into Britain and in return had the right both to work and to bring in their spouse. Work was often full-time rather than the permitted part-time, and spouses were soon filling the beds of the local maternity wards. These free-riders have effectively been excluded, whilst the real universities have not suffered at all - the increase in Chinese students, few of whom intend to stay permanently, making up for the lost bogus scholars. 

But I don't think this is the only factor in the immigration drop. Construction output has slumped over the past year, as the chart shows clearly;
With this downturn have departed many of the Bulgarians, Albanians, Romanians, Poles, Portuguese and Turks from our construction sites. Their work patterns are complex - many work, say, eight months in the UK then spend the rest of the time at home helping with harvests. For others the two-week Christmas shutdown becomes a couple of months, as they catch up with building their own homes or caring for their elderly mums. Browsing the easyjet fares tables will tell you when they're going and returning. Many who go home this Christmas won't be back - there's just not the work. 

And this kind of labour market flexibility is vital for UK construction, and should be welcomed by a UK government unemcumbered by employment and housing costs. Let's make sure we don't lose the baby with the bathwater. 

Friday, 30 November 2012

LibDems utterly destroyed in by-elections

Watching that egregious little waste-of-space Clegg's performance in the Commons yesterday, nothing gives me more satisfaction that totting up yesterday's by-election results;

Rotherham Middlesbrough Croydon N TOTAL
Labour 9866 10201 15898 35965 57%
UKIP 4648 1990 1400 8038 13%
Conservative 1157 1063 4137 6357 10%
LibDem 451 1672 860 2983 5%
Turnout 21330 16866 24458 62654

(Apols for the early mis-post)

Will MPs prove they're still crooks and fraudsters?

The newspaper industry exposed the Rotten Parliament as a nest of chiselling little crooks in which very few MPs had resisted the opportunities for theft, peculation, avarice, fraud, improper enrichment and petty greed at the taxpayers' expense. In the wake of that great disgrace, which also brought a welcome 'churn' of the Commons, one would have expected the proper response of a chamber committed to the national interest to be greater transparency, restraint, and a system of compensation based on equity and probity. 

But not so. Those old hands from the Rotten Parliament who remain continue to imagine they deserve a privilege that the public have already denied to them, and have spent their efforts finding the loopholes in the new IPSA regime. They have learned nothing. In their prehensile brain stems they still believe they are 'special', that they deserve first-class travel and all the pampered luxury of the international hotel at the public expense; their concern is now how they can hide or disguise this from the voting public. 

Leveson has offered them the opportunity not only for payback, to administer a kicking to the newspaper industry that humiliated them, but an open door to introduce and to subsequently modify, grow and expand laws that will prevent the press ever again exposing their fraud, sleaze and corruption. Clegg is nothing but an unprincipled rogue, a chancer, a fly-boy who has had his day and can be ignored. Labour, on the other hand, have already shown that they are prepared to put party first and country nowhere in their refusal to reform advantageous Rotten Boroughs of third-world standards of electoral probity that shame us to the world. To muzzle Murdoch they would sell our freedom for a mess of electoral pottage.

Leveson's report is responsible and balanced to an extent that few expected. The real danger, the legislature's response, is yet to come.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Bent poll from the 'Media Standards Trust'

The 'Mail' this morning explains how the Media Standards Trust rigged a recent poll question on press regulation in favour of a Big State regulator, thereby demonstrating the levels of distortion, omission and misrepresentation we can come to expect from this off-shoot of the 'Common Purpose' cult. 

Like the Moonies and the Branch Davidians before them, these cultists always start by peddling a web of lies, part-truths, inventions and inversions and contortions of the truth. They then accuse everyone else of lying

The Media Standards Trust is nothing of the sort. It has none of the talent of the media, its standards are in the gutter and it is unworthy of public trust. 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Booze and Leveson

With minimum alcohol pricing and the Leveson report both on today's political agenda, settling down for a post-office pint with a copy of the ES this evening will have a certain resonance. Together with news on yet another rail price rise when I've hardly got used to the impact of the last one, the effect of Darling's beer duty escalator since 2008 (scheduled to continue until 2014/15) and no doubt the brewcos looking at a wet summer and its impact on malted grain to add even more, I may be tempted to linger. Except that my earnings have remained pretty static for the past four years, like many people, and I probably can't afford it. 

So I think it's time to set up my own commercial nano-distillery and produce 20l a week of Gin, most of which I shall sell. However, I'm going to insist on being fully registered by HMRC as a Rectifier* and have my garden shed licensed as a bonded warehouse. That'll teach the buggers.

*All in accordance with HMRC Notices  to allow full duty relief on carboys of raw grain ethanol ...

And I'll have a Turbo T500 for Christmas, please (around £380)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Farewell to the Fairway FX4

Dick Puddlecote reminds us of the insanity behind the disappearance of thousands of Fairway FX4 cabs from London's streets over the past few months. For those who are not afficionados of London cabs, the FX4 is the one with the rear doors hinged at the back, a hugely sensible and convenient arrangement.

The last of the Nissan-engined Fairways came off the production line in 1997, but a few of the older Austin / Rover engined carbodies FX4s were still on the road two years ago, most having done over a million miles, and instantly recognisable from their engine note. 

Steel of course emits around 2 tonnes of CO2 for every tonne made, and all those internal plastic trims come from hydrocarbons. So not only are all those massive, ugly, clumsy, heavy Mercedes cabs now on London's streets responsible for mass emissions as new vehicles, thousands of older FX4s will still have half-a-million miles left in them, as exported taxis, (or as private vehicles - 1990s FX4s will cost £1500 - £2000) so the result of the ban is actually, er, a net increase in CO2 emissions. 

You won't be astonished to learn that the Euro 3 exhaust emission regulations are responsible.

Tiger Tiger ...

Both Artur Mas and Alex Salmond must be musing today on that eternal politician's refrain; how much simpler politics would be without the voters. Scotland's independence movement has highly committed and driven politicians but an indifferent public, whilst in Catalonia the reverse is true. Artur Mas has coupled his CIU party to the popular surge for independence for electoral advantage, only to find that he is riding a tiger. The Catalonians want a referendum now on independence, but Snr Mas will only commit today (post result) to 'consult' them sometime during the next four years.

Doubts amongst the voters about Artur Mas' real commitment to Catalun independence cost him twelve seats; the votes going to the left-wing ERC, strongly pushing a separatist Catalonia, who won twenty-one seats. We now face the prospect of a militant and angry public out on the streets of Barcelona pushing a reluctant Artur Mas and his CIU to give them a referendum sooner rather than later, with the ERC inside the 135-seat assembly holding daggers to his kidneys for the same end. Awkward buggers, voters. 

Tigers have a habit of eating those who ride them, and the red and yellow stripes of this one may yet turn on Mas is he doesn't heed this electoral warning. Caught between the Scylla of voter passion and the Charybdis of Madrid's intransigence the formerly moderate Snr Mas, who originally wanted only more autonomy within a Spanish federation, may regret ever pushing the independence button for electoral advantage. 


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Will Hutton: Yes to Press Regulation

Will Hutton writes in the Observer today why he, 'as a journalist and ex-editor', favours regulation of the press. We reproduce an edited version of his piece here.
"There's really a lot of bunk talked about freedom of expression. It's really not that important, is it? After all, most people's opinions seem to be nonsense to me. I'd rather hear the views of the sort of sensible people I have seated around my dinner table. 

Freedom of the Press leads to irresponsible criticism of the sort of fine upstanding people who run Common Purpose, an organisation selflessly devoted to ensuring that the views expressed at my dinner table are promulgated throughout the public sector, and of such wholly impartial and independent organisations as the Media Standards Trust and the Institute for Bureau of Investigative Journalism, all committed to eliminating the sorts of nonsense opinions held by the majority of the public. 

As for the exposure of my good friend Hugh Grant in paying for oral sex in a public place from a black crack whore, it was clearly despicable. It cost him his charming girlfriend. If people like Hugh can't be allowed to deceive their partners without the press sneaking on them what sort of world do we live in?

We've already got courts and injunctions, of course, but these are really expensive and have to be paid for from my friends' private resources. How much fairer it would be if the taxpayer instead paid the cost of hiding their secrets from the public, allowing them to retain their own wealth for social good.

Of course a Press Regulation body will only protect those at the heart of the establishment - it really can't be concerned with injustice against unimportant people, and since the taxpayer will bear all the costs of protecting the rich and famous from the Press I'm sure people will agree that this is right."