Saturday, 7 June 2014

So many lessons, so little learned

Several years ago I heard an irritating American youth lecturing a French chap that "we liberated you - you owe us" and was pleased to hear the reply "We owe you nothing. To the soldiers who fought here, we owe everything. But you weren't amongst them". I recalled it when reading John Miller's heartfelt words in a response to the post below; yes, politicians today are still making the same error as that American boy - assuming that the actions of the men who landed on those beaches is somehow common property that can be appropriated by those not even born when it happened.

My late father was amongst those who landed on Sword beach on the morning of 6th June 1944. The battle for Normandy was as hard and bloody as anything in the Great War, with six thousand casualties a day. Outside Caen, in a walled orchard in a small village called Cambes-en-pleine, he was wounded by grenade splinters and missed the next bit, getting back only in time to cross the Rhine. As a child I didn't understand the contents of the old shirt-box filled with post-war photos of CWGC headstones, all bearing his regimental crest. They were of course the record of his comrades who never made it home. 

The headstones are still there of course, but they may not be the same ones that my father photographed. As the Mail reports;
Many veterans wondered if there was something different about the place this year. Indeed there was. A few years ago, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission noticed many of its Second World War graves were deteriorating at a much faster pace than those from 1914-18. It turned out that as Britain emerged from chaos in 1945, Whitehall – shamefully – requisitioned all top grade Portland stone to repair government buildings. The commission ended up with the cast-offs. So it has spent two years and £4million replacing 8,000 of the most vulnerable Normandy graves.
The pomp and pleasure of shiny-arse Whitehall bureaucrats took precedence over the memory of men whose lives had been lost for this thing even then. And as John Miller's comments suggest, nothing has changed. 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Secret justice

No doubt the government's lawyers have reviewed with sighs of longing the system of secret justice as practised in Stalin's Russia; not only were the trials held in secret, with press and public excluded and all reporting banned, but the defendant wasn't even told that they were being tried. The first they heard of it was when they were being dragged off to execution or the gulag.

Our government's lawyers have had to be content with merely holding the trial in secret, or trying to do so. Fair-dos to the MSM on this one - it it wasn't for a legal appeal launched by three national newspapers (but not the BBC you note; our national news organisation must, I conclude, be all in favour of secret trials) I would not even be able to write about the proposals for a secret trial.

Again, I can add nothing to Simon Jenkins' piece in the Guardian this morning. Either Mr Jenkins or Helena Kennedy would make a truly excellent new Chairman for the BBC but neither will even have a sniff of a chance; the sinecure will go to some compliant dummy happy to preside over corporate decline in exchange for a peerage, long lunches and luxury travel.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Recall - careful construction needed

MPs need more power to hold the government to account and need to enjoy greater independence from their parties. They also need to shed much of their role as appellate body for every trivial complaint from their constituents over access to rationed public services. Above all, MPs must be free to act in Parliament according to their own judgement - they are representatives, not delegates. For all of the foregoing, we must protect their rights, preserve their independence and defend their privileges. 

The power of recall should be available to their constituents and to no others in the event of a gross breach of trust or duty by a sitting MP. It should not be subject to approval by fellow MPs, nor conditional upon a criminal conviction nor on the imposition of a prison sentence. The democratic hurdle must be high enough to discourage frivolous or vexatious moves to recall.

This legislation will need careful construction and deep consideration. MPs must be free to act in accordance with their conscience in Parliament as long as they maintain those standards of conduct and probity required for anyone in public office. MPs aren't saints, and many will err and regret it. But for the expenses thieves, the bribe-takers, those assisting foreign powers against Britain's interest, the incorrigible and persistently morally iniquitous and for those grossly negligent in the exercise of duties as Members of Parliament there must be the sanction of dismissal.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Euphile Hermans in a strop

If this latest editorial in Der Spiegel is representative, Euphile Hermans (by no means all of them) are well and truly miffed at the UK:-
"For years Britain has blackmailed and made a fool out of the EU. The United Kingdom must finally make a choice: It can play by the rules or it can leave the European Union....The time has now come for a clarification. And it's even possible the European Union will have to decide what is most important: a more democratic Europe or having Britain remain a member. This clarification must come now - with the appointment of the future European Commission president. It's a decision which cannot wait until 2017, the year by which David Cameron has said he will hold a referendum on Britain's EU membership.The EU cannot allow itself to be blackmailed by the British for another three years and refuse to give the people of Europe what was assured to them before the election -- that they could use their vote to determine the next president of the European Commission. If the EU doesn't fulfil that promise, it will lose all credibility and acceptance."
Oooowww! There's nothing as irrational as a Herman in a strop; a 'more democratic Europe' for goodness sake. I suppose they mean the old German tradition of one man one vote one reich - and that man to be His Waltness Herr Juncker.   

Excellent! We're clearly doing something right. 

The Battle for Brussels

Der Spiegel has the best account yet available on the battle that has broken out in Brussels over the selection of the next President; with Juncker throwing a hissy-fit and claiming 'It's mine! It's mine!", and an attempted stitch-up by the outgoing floor-leaders in advance of the new EP groupings being finalised. 

Against a background of insincerity, backstabbing, dirty tricks and open leaking to Juncker in real time of the negotiations of the Heads of Government we have both sides claiming the democratic moral high ground, neither with clean hands. Der Spiegel supports the EP as having democratic legitimacy, and therefore the right to make a new President - except the parliament hasn't met yet and the deal is being done by the dis-elected has-beens. Cameron and Merkel claim that the elected Heads of Government have greater democratic legitimacy, and the choice should be down to them, despite the role of Euro President never having featured in any party's manifesto. In the middle is Juncker, desperately selling himself, hungry for the hubris of office. We can only guess at the crooked promises he's making in return for support - and his history of corruption in office makes it virtually certain that this is what he's doing. 

It's an utter mess - and the Eurosceptics will be the only winners, making capital for years to come of the farce that is the Battle for Brussels.  

Monday, 2 June 2014

PPI - No, really

Do banks get prizes for giving away PPI compensation? 

Now I've never had PPI on loans or credit cards - I've always known it was a complete scam and always rejected it. And I'm not into loans or paying interest much anyway - certainly not since I grew up. But clearing out some old boxes of papers - research for a biography of the last Emir of Bokhara that I'll never write, some A-grade Master's degree essays and the like - I came across the faded handwritten carbons of a loan agreement with my bank from 1988, for not a very large sum. And guess what? It included PPI. Certainly the last and only time I'd ever had it. Well, Limitation Act and all that - simple contracts only actionable for six years etc. - I almost chucked them on the shredding pile, but some mischievous perversity tempted me to put a claim in.

That was ten days ago. I've just had a letter upholding my claim and paying out £2,800 - most of it simple interest at 8% a year from 1988. And what's more, the tone of the thing is proud and happy, as though they're delighted to be able to give the bank's money away so easily. 

Gobsmacked. 

Yeeeeeesssss ....... (Paxo frown)

"We hear you" - the political establishment

"Voters are racists" - Anna Soubry MP

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Ruritanian Walt Juncker good for UKIP

Juncker wearing his Tuesday medals
Ruritanian Walt Jean-Claude Juncker, whose love for collecting medals and decorations from the obscure backwaters of Europe would leave him looking like a Christmas tree if he wore them all at once, has won Merkel's conditional support to be our next President. Juncker is also a Hon-whore, with a love for honorary degrees from Euro academic businesses universities in gratitude for the millions of taxpayers' money the EU dishes out to them.  

Thus it is surely fitting that our sovereign should curtsy to him in recognition of his superior status when next she seeks an audience of him. And when she adds to his Walt collection with, say, a Knight Grand Cross of the Bath. The Universities of Luton, Steeple Bumstead and Llandrindod Wells will surely also honour him with honorary doctorates, and no doubt Slough will award him freedom of the borough. 

While Federasts will be delighted at Juncker's play to become our next President - he is all for abolishing us altogether and relegating us to a Satrap of his new Euro Empire - this may be a gift for UKIP and other Eurosceptic parties. Nothing is as warranted to irritate the British people as much as some Walt upstart with delusions of grandeur trying to lord it over us. Der Spiegel reports that Cameron has warned Merkel that Juncker's appointment would infuriate Britain to the point where he may have to bring a referendum forward (Cameron is holding a referendum? Oh, it's just a promise.)

Still, even if Juncker fails to secure his prize it won't be from lack of lobbying. For which he deserves another medal. 

Post Script
==========
It seems some Middle Eastern fellow called Blair has also thrown his hat into the ring for the job. He's got no chance against Juncker - Blair only has one medal, an American thing. And just to cheer your Sunday, here's vintage William Hague;