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Friday 12 January 2018

Winning back the seas

For a nation with links to the sea as strong as the UK, nothing raises such visceral protectiveness as our territorial waters and fish. Oh sure we can get a little bit excited about the economic benefits of passporting for the City, but it simply doesn't raise the blood to battle as does the prospect of a Dutch trawler stealing our cod. Gaining economic sovereignty (I won't say regaining) of our 200 mile commercial limit in 2019 is therefore a big deal.

For UK fishing fleets to take up the catches currently taken from our waters by the EU27 will take time. Boats must be built, crews must be trained, shore facilities must be expanded - and most importantly, vessels to patrol and police our waters from foreign poachers must be built and crewed. If new keels are not laid this month, we simply won't have the last capacity in March 2019.   

I'm not surprised that the EU27 want to hold onto their right to take British fish during the 2-year transition period, nor that the government seem prepared to concede this. If not the CFP then some form of licencing would realistically have been needed to allow continental fleets to wind-down their operations. However, our lost licence fee income from these two years must be deducted from the financial settlement - after 2019 they'll be taking our fish, not a common EU fish stock. 

And one measure we can take, one piece of legislation we can prepare, is to reverse the judgement in Factortame.  Requiring red duster flagged vessels to have a majority of UK national owners would at least halt the despoliation of stun fishing, and ensure that within reasonable time the full economic benefits would return to the United Kingdom.

Thursday 11 January 2018

Impress and Ipso

This is a story in which there are no heroes, only villains. Press 'regulation' does absolutely nothing to eliminate fake news, bias, distortion, omission or misrepresentation in our national press; such things are accepted as part and parcel of newspapers. Some editors, such as Piers Morgan, unashamedly even faked photos and printed fiction when the real thing was scarce. For anyone of any sense, the best approach to newspaper reporters is to shun them utterly; anyone stupid or naive enough to believe that a newspaper will tell their story the way they describe it deserves the monstering they will undoubtedly earn.

So who exactly do the competing regulators Impress and Ipso protect? Well, the establishment for a start - politicians, fixers, political dags, the wealthy, the powerful, and then of course luvvies - actors, musicians and the like, those who seek to use the press for their own publicity. Them. Not us. Press regulators do absolutely nothing for you and I; absolutely nothing. 

So the Press are heroes then, fighting the rich and powerful on our behalf? Uhm, no. The papers are owned or directed by the same rich and powerful. Their aim is to stay rich by printing stuff that people want to read - and what people want to read about are other people, if not the establishment and the rich and famous then at least those endowed with enormous buttocks. Private Eye used to push the boundaries a bit but under Hislop has become flaccid and toothless, a sort of downmarket Punch with dirty print.

One of these pointless regulators was actually founded by Max Mosley who has spent much time and effort ridding the internet of images of himself naked and undergoing a sexually perverted act with a number of prostitutes. As a wealthy man who can afford to indulge his perversions, Mosley asserts his right to do so without fear of exposure. It's not an argument with which I care to engage. 

So there you have it. Impress and Ipso. Utterly pointless and nothing to worry about.

Monday 8 January 2018

Tax funding for political parties ... again

Yep you guessed. The political establishment is gearing up to have another go at getting tax funding of the established parties onto the statute books - or rather, enhancing the tax funding provisions that already apply. This time around the Conservatives, down to a rumoured 70,000 members, are listening. 

The previous crooked proposals from Christopher Kelly, building on earlier crooked proposals from Hayden Phillips, would have given all parties with at least one sitting MP about £3 a year from taxpayers for each vote the party got in the previous general election. Protests that this entrenched incumbent parties, discouraged tactical voting, discouraged all voting, inhibited political change and gave Labour, LibDems and Conservatives a sort of quasi-constitutional status beloved of establishment mandarins such as Kelly and Phillips fell on deaf ears. In the end it was Labour's refusal to accept a cap of £50k on individual donations - hobbling Union cash - that froze the scheme. 

Back in 2014 I wrote of my dislike for Carswell at the time of his defection - and was admonished by UKIP readers. I called him caddish, I think. However, had the Kelly / Phillips tax funding proposals gone through, he could have earned UKIP some £12m a year in party funding. Without him, 4m votes would get UKIP exactly nothing. Still a turd, perhaps, but possibly a gold plated one. 

Now of course wealthy individual LEAVE funders are being hit for 20% inheritance tax on their donations - donations tax free for global corporates and their UK incorporated dags, for trade unions or if made to (you've guessed it) political parties with at least one sitting MP. HMRC may be applying the law, but it is a dubious law that has the effect of implementing crooked and underhand tax funding of some points of view, wholly against the will of the public on tax funding in general. It's bent, it's corrupt and we didn't vote for it. It's the introduction of tax funding by the back door - and the lever that the establishment will use to move to the next stage. 

The political landscape never remains static. When I started writing this blog, the Conservatives had some 250k paying members, Labour was suffering and down to about 160k and the LibDems scraped some 60k. The 2010 coalition brought chauffeured jags for the LibDem top dogs but a massive hole in party funding from the loss of opposition Short money. Party membership in the UK had reached a nadir with just 1% of an electorate of 45m being party members. 

In 2018 we face a Conservative party with fewer than a third of the members it had ten years ago, a LibDem party on the verge of extinction, with only the disproportionate number of LD peers giving them any parliamentary presence at all, but a reinvigorated Labour party replete with individual memberships and backed with big union money from the TUs that would dearly love a Marxist in the Treasury. 

Party funding is in desperate need of a complete rethink; social media in particular makes a joke of much of the existing framework. But no more Kelly and no more Phillips - no more establishment mandarins, crooked civil servants, bent globalists or Blairite managerialists. 

Who would you nominate to chair a new, fair enquiry into party funding? My own nominees are both from the left; Simon Jenkins, who ran a membership organisation with over 4m paying members, and Helena Kennedy, whose seminal Power inquiry was squashed by the very establishment it sought to reform.