Saturday, June 21, 2008

Rifkind: How the Irish No Vote may help the Tories

Malcolm Rifkind on the Irish No vote in a European Affairs discussion last week.

I have highlighted the most important point which is that the No Vote may delay the ratification of the treaty beyond the length of the current Labour Government. The Conservatives will then be free to put the Lisbon Treaty to a Referendum. We can only hope this is true and the public can have their promised vote.

The hon. Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh) ended her speech with a quotation; perhaps I may begin with one from many years ago. G. K. Chesterton said:

"The golden age of the good European is...a place where people will love each other; not...a place where they will be each other."

Although he was clearly not envisaging the European Union, there is a resonance between his words and the debate here and throughout Europe on the kind of Europe that we are trying to create. Is it a Europe of close co-operation, close friendship and close amity with the wider world, or a Europe that is constantly seeking further integration with some distant aspiration and ideal? Debates in Britain and elsewhere in Europe increasingly show that the wider public simply do not give their consent to the more integrated type of Europe that many of its founding fathers assumed would be Europe's destiny, and to which many in Europe, particularly continental Europe, still aspire.

Let me comment on some of the conclusions and implications that we ought to draw from the referendum in Ireland. My first point is potentially of domestic significance. If the Irish Government were to propose holding a second referendum at some future date, it would, at the very least, mean a major delay before final implementation of the new treaty; that would be an unavoidable consequence of the Irish saying that they wished to hold a second referendum. It would be perhaps another year, a year and a half, or even two years before all countries could ratify. Before then, there will almost certainly be a United Kingdom general election. If that led to a change of Government, one consequence would be that even if the treaty had been ratified in the United Kingdom, if it had not come into effect because an Irish referendum had not yet taken place, an incoming Conservative Government could reopen the whole issue by calling a referendum. That was not true until last week. Even if we had ratified, we could de-ratify if the treaty had not yet come into effect.

I have made clear my view that it would be absurd for a future Conservative Government to hold a referendum if the treaty had already come into effect; that would be a pointless exercise, and would be wrought with great difficulties. If, however, the treaty had not come into effect because the Irish had not ratified, my Front-Bench colleagues would be perfectly entitled to say, "The United Kingdom made a commitment that the British would have a choice", and that the matter should not simply be up to the Government." That is a profound consequence of what happened last week.

PPS for Andy Burnham calls for Resignation

No, not for Andy Burnham but for a Tory PPC who made a "racist and xenophobic" jibe.

Mary Creagh (PPS (Rt Hon Andy Burnham, Secretary of State), Department for Culture, Media & Sport; Wakefield, Labour) had this to say during a debate on European Affairs.

The right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) is no longer in his place. We talked a lot about cojones when he was ribbing the Liberal Democrats earlier. I wonder whether it is a demonstration of cojones on the part of his leader not to reject Alun Cairns as a Welsh Tory prospective parliamentary candidate for saying that he would not support the Italian football team because they were a bunch of "greasy wops". I wonder why the Conservative party has not expelled someone who expounds such racist and xenophobic views— [ Interruption. ]

Order. Perhaps the hon. Lady could confine her remarks to the European affairs that we are discussing.

Perhaps she needs to think about the sexist and demeaning jibe that her erstwhile Boss made about Shami Chakrabarti and David Davis.
I find something very curious in the man who was, and still is I believe, an exponent of capital punishment having late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone calls with Shami Chakrabarti.
Will she be asking for Andy Burnham to resign next week in Parliament. After all if she can get so hot under the collar about Alun Cairns then she should surely boil at this type of remark against her own sex, never mind the innuendo and effect that this sort of statement has on the husbands and wives of the people it is supposed to be a joke on.

For the EU to be effective, it must...: 18 Jun 2008: House of Commons debates (

Gordon Brown's Gap year

A biting commentary on Gordon Browns "Gap Year" from Vicki Woods in the Telegraph. You get the feeling that all the articles on Gordon's first year will be like this. Here are a few of the paragraphs

First on the Photocall for his first day.

We'd all been so fluffed up by the Labour machine on fast spin-cycle ("Not flash. Just Gordon") that we could look with geniality on the fact that he clearly didn't know what to do with his hands, or his wife, or even his new gnashers.
Next on the tragedy that is Gordon
Some people think Brown's story is a tragedy. I don't. Jonathan Freedland, a Guardian commentator, wrote on Wednesday that Brown has "the jealousy of Othello, the ambition of Macbeth and the indecision of Hamlet". The lunacy of Lear, more like.
And then on an earlier speech
Brown once said: "The equality we support is not equality for equality's sake as if we want to level people down, but equality for liberty's sake, because we wish to level people up."
He has certainly leveled detention up to 42 days.
And finally on Liberty and Freedom as done by Brown we have
Between him and Blair, this cradle of liberty has been trashed utterly: free speech trammelled, internment without charge made law, habeas corpus on life support, the privacy of the private citizen open (via databases) to the curiosity of 800-odd agents of the state. It is a tragedy.
Doesn't make good reading if you are thinking about what this man is going to do our country between now and the next election.

To think I sang when Tony Blair left No 10 - Telegraph

Gordon Brown plans to fight only one election

Good to hear he will only fight one election. However the reason will be that he has been booted out by the voting public in massive numbers rather than that he will "retire" gracefully.

If, and it is still a big if, Gordon makes it to calling an election, he will have no alternative but to retire as his "colleagues" will be throwing him out. This cannot happen quickly enough for this country.

Gordon Brown plans to fight only one election - Telegraph

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dilbert for Freedom

What more can I say. Even the US comics have caught onto David Davis's campaign.

The inexcusable smearing of an opponent

Dominic Lawson writing in the Independent has few good words for Labour and in particular Mr Burnham who gets a good tanning by Dominic. All this has come about by the words Mr Burnham wrote in the New Labour magazine Progress. Note that he did not write the article in any of the MSM who might have changed the words as they would be unlikely to have accepted them as being anything but libellous. The words that have caused such controversy were as follows

"I find something very curious in the man who was, and still is I believe, an exponent of capital punishment, having late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone calls with Shami Chakrabarti."

These are carefully crafted words to get out the exact meaning that Labour wanted, to imply, that David Davis was having some sort of inappropriate relationship with Shami Chakrabarti. According to Dominic

The big smear started the moment David Davis announced his resignation to fight a by-election on the issue of Labour's erosion of civil liberties. It was said that Mr Davis had been "bewitched" by the director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti. The smear then grew, in the way these things do, to the allegation – unfounded, unjustifiable and, to any one who knows the happily married Ms Chakrabarti, unbelievable – that there was "something going on between them".

Over the last week it has seeped from the bars of the House of Commons into the newspaper columns. Ann Treneman, the Times' parliamentary sketchwriter, wrote a couple of days ago that "there is a rumour that David Davis resigned after being bewitched by Shami. She denied this, but then she would." I can see that this was designed to be amusing, but, if you were Ms Chakrabarti, then you could only be further distressed – and having spoken to her, I know just how upset she has been made by this innuendo.

Dominic finally ends up by saying that Mr Burnham's clarifying statement about the remarks was not exactly an apology but just more tactics. The apology declared that his remark about Mr Davis and Ms Chakrabarti was meant as
"a light-hearted comment about the former shadow Home Secretary's political journey, by-election political knockabout and nothing else."
Dominic asserts
Note the passive tense – the weasel way of appearing to apologise without actually doing so. The truth is that it is New Labour who are offended by Ms Chakrabarti: deep down, they simply can't accept the idea that the head of Liberty might actually be independent, that she doesn't know her place – which was meant to be in New Labour's big tent, and certainly not making common cause with the Conservatives. So they smear her.

Labour just cannot believe that the Conservatives can appeal to such a broad range of people. They cannot understand why their message is being rejected by the British people and now they are reverting to their sad old tricks of trying to smear and denigrate people rather than argue the case or the facts. This is typical Gordon Brown behaviour. He hates the fact that he cannot "dominate" the free-thinking public and so will come out with tactics that, forgive my footballing parlance , play the (wo)man rather than the ball.

Dominic Lawson: This is more than a political knock-about – it's the inexcusable smearing of an opponent - Dominic Lawson, Commentators - The Independent

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mr Bean meets Mr Smooth

A telling little sketch in the Telegraph by Andrew Gimson highlights how inept our glorious leader is in situations where he cannot dominate. Its starts with the story of Mr Bean(Brown) meeting Mr Smooth (Sarkozy) and relates how Mr Bean lumbers and jerks across the scene like a puppet manpulated by a three-year old.

The final part of the article is the most damning howver, Mr Gimson observes

We fear that as an exceptionally intelligent and conscientious young man, Mr Brown decided that whatever else he needed to learn, it was not the ancient art of courtly behaviour on formal occasions. A man with such an intellect, and with such a desire to dominate those around him, had no need for the polite arts of a courtier.

But domination, of the kind Mr Brown exerted with such an iron hand during his 10 years at the Treasury, is not of much value when it comes to exchanging courtesies with foreigners such as Mr Sarkozy or Mr Bush who have to be treated as your equals.

This is where Mr Brown is utterly hopeless: at treating other people with any appearance of equality.

His urge is always to dominate, and when he knows that he cannot dominate, he falls into a childish state of nervous clumsiness. With Mr Sarkozy, Mr Bush and other such dignitaries, Mr Brown moves with all the grace of a man trapped in a heavy and unfamiliar Victorian diving suit. If his diplomacy is as clumsy as his body language, we fear he is always going to have great difficulty dealing with foreigners.

Brown showing how true to life Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean has become. The problem is that having a slap-stick comic as a Prime Minister is not what we need in these times of trouble.

Meeting Nicolas Sarkozy, Gordon Brown loses his amour-propre - Telegraph

Loathing of elections has led British democracy to atrophy

This article in the Guardian is well worth a read. Simon Jenkins wonders

Have you noticed how the political establishment hates elections? It regards them as vulgar, foreign, exhibitionist and unpredictable. To those in power they are mere concessions to mob rule. If electors did not insist on them, elections would have been abolished long ago as Victorian gimmicks to appease proletarian sentiment.
He points out that with the Irish having said "no" the eurocrats are now telling us that, despite the rules, 5 million people cannot stop the 500 million people of Europe on their plunge towards Federalism. He says
The treaty is defunct when rejected by a member of the Union. Yet I have heard commentators argue that 5 million Irish cannot be allowed to stand over against 500 million Europeans - as if the rule was not really a rule and as if the 500 million had ever been asked their view. None had, for the obvious reason that they would have agreed with the Irish. A writer in the Financial Times even depicted Ireland as a snivelling little country that should be kicked into the sea. That is how Belgium and Poland were once treated. European super-statehood seems to drive people mad.
He makes the very good point that I have said before. Only Ireland has had a vote we don't know what other countries would have said. We do know that both France and Holland, when voting on the old Constitution that forms the real basis of the Lisbon Treaty, booted it out, which is why we got the revised wordsmithing that is the Lisbon Treaty.

On the subject of David Davis and his resignation to allow voters to give their opinion of 42 days detention he has this to say
Westminster politicians and lobby reporters derided Davis as an exhibitionist, a loner and crazy. Why did he not wait for parliament to handle the matter? Why not stick within the club? Did he not realise that the public disagreed with him over 42 days, as revealed in Westminster's favourite franchise, the polls? Worst of all, Davis was currying favour with mere voters, as if he were consorting in the servants' hall.

By Sunday, when thousands of members of the public (and celebrities) had rallied to Davis's flag, Westminster was gulping and wondering if it had missed something. It had. As in Ireland, the public liked being asked its view. That is why 80% of people want a referendum on Lisbon, irrespective of their being more evenly divided on its virtues.

So we see that when offered a chance the public is gasping to take it, even if it is just in a single by-election.

Finally Simon considers the changes to Local Government democracy with the impending white paper from Hazel Blears strangely titled "Local Empowerment". It is of course nothing of the sort Labour do not believe that anyone else but them knows best. As Simon says
Today's councilors must contract with Whitehall, not with their voters. Blears's proposals will have no truck with elective discretion or tax devolution. The present Treasury minister, Yvette Cooper, wrote in 2004 that localism means "nimbyism and divisive inequalities". To her and her colleagues, Lenin was right and democratic centralism was all the accountability needed for better public services.
Ouch that is probably a bit better than I could have expressed it, but it is so true and with our Joe Stalin we have a "leader" who thinks he knows better than all the rest of us, how wrong he is being proved.

It's time government realised that people can decide for themselves what is good for them both locally and nationally. Unfortunately broken promises and failed government are not allowing us to do this via our elected representatives.

Simon Jenkins: Loathing of elections has led British democracy to atrophy | Comment is free | The Guardian

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Woman soldier among Afghan dead

This is very worrying and very sad news.

With 9 UK soldiers killed in the past 10 days this is one of the worst periods of the current Afghanistan operation and doubly sad to hear that one of the dead was the first female UK soldier to die in Afghanistan.

UPDATE: I now hear that the three men who died were from 23rd Special Air Service Regiment, which is one of two Territorial Army SAS units. All four soldiers are expected to be named on Thursday after the Ministry of Defence changed its policy about keeping the names of special forces fatalities secret.

The British army spokesman at Camp Bastion, Lt Col Robin Matthews, said:
While the past week or so has indeed been bruising, and no-one would deny that, we must remain fixed on what the strategic imperative is here. That is delivering a better life, and progress, to the Afghan people.All of us have admiration for the work that both male and female British soldiers are doing here and the courage they are showing, acknowledging the risks that are apparent in this particular part of Afghanistan. He said recent events had led soldiers to "reflect on the nature of business here", but they could see the tangible results of their work and were willing to take risks.
My thoughts are with the families and friends of the soldiers who died and the injured soldier.

BBC NEWS | UK | Woman soldier among Afghan dead

Burnham at the stake

I see that Labour have their attack bitches out to try and smear David Davis inthe form of Andy Burnham the Culture Minister. In a long rambling piece to the Progress Magazine, of which "organisation" he is the vice-chair he has this to say:

But in the culture secretary's book, there seems to be only one thing worse than Davis' ‘posturing' and ‘flouncing' and that's those who have fallen for it: ‘To people who get seduced by Tory talk of how liberal they are, I find something very curious in the man who was, and still is I believe, an exponent of capital punishment having late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone alls with Shami Chakrabarti.'
Whch prompted Mr Davis to accuse Labour of indulging in
personal smears and lies - Labour has lost the argument over the erosion of British freedoms. While Gordon Brown cowers in Downing Street, his henchmen are out and about to attack me personally rather than engage in rational debate.
This sort of implication that David Davis has had an inappropriate relationship with the director of Liberty is just shocking. For a Culture/Media/Sport Minister it is appalling.

UPDATE: Article in the Daily Mail on this as well which says that Shami Chakrabarti is distraught about this.

Burnham at the Stake.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firefox 3.0 is now available

Go here to download Firefox 3.0.

Spread Firefox

Are we past being Sick of Gordon

Simon Carr writing in the Independent has a theory that we are now past being sick of Gordon. As he says

Even the arrival and endorsement of George Bush, the multilateral cretin, failed to produce expected levels of revulsive indignation. Have the reserves been depleted? Have we passed peak bile? Do we need a strategy for sustainable disgust? Renewable nausea? Have we squandered our resources? Has he exhausted us?
Perhaps we are and the point is there are two ways we can handle this:
  1. The bend over here it comes again approach (Bohica)
  2. The David Davis approach where you take "positive" action against this corrupt and failing government.
As Mr Carr says
... but Gordon won't say anything like that in public. He hates clarity and transparency. He's relying on his famous stamina to exhaust us all. It's yet to be seen which way an exhausted electorate will vote. We can only guess.
I know which camp I am in, which one are you going to join?

The Sketch: How Gordon makes George sound like a star - Simon Carr, Commentators - The Independent

A letter you should read

Attached is the Governor of the Bank of England's letter to the Chancellor this morning as inflation hits an 11 year high of 3.3%. Well worth a read if you are into horror stories.

cpiletter080616.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Petition on Lisbon Treaty

Please sign the petition at the address below to abandon the attempt to ratify the Lisbon Treaty.

Petition to: Respect the result of the Irish referendum and abandon the attempt to ratify the Lisbon Treaty.

Conservative peers try to stall Lisbon treaty Bill

I can only wish them well in their task for the day. As the Times says

The Conservatives will table an unusual motion today urging that the third reading of the European Reform Treaty Bill, due tomorrow afternoon, be delayed, probably until the autumn.

They are seeking the support of Liberal Democrat, crossbench and even rebel Labour peers to back the measure, arguing that they would not be stopping ratification altogether but delaying it while Ireland and Europe decide what to do next.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, flew back from the foreign ministers' meeting yesterday to tell the Commons that the Government believed ratification should continue as planned.

Conservative peers try to stall Lisbon treaty Bill as Ireland seeks more time - Times Online

David Davis for Freedom

The David Davis for Freedom website is up and running.

Here are some newspaper articles by David Davis.

The Telegraph has this "I'm fighting to defend our basic freedoms, says David Davis"

The Evening Standard has this "Comment: public response to my stand proves this debate is vital"

Conservative Home has this "David Davis: British freedoms are far more precious than the career of any single politician"

David Davis - Home

Remember, Remember the 7th of November - David Davis

Way back in November I highlighted a little exchange in the House of Commons when both David Davis and Bob Marshall-Andrews had a few things to say about the Queens Speech.

At the time I highlighted Bob Marshall-Andrews speech as I thought it was fairly significant that a Labour backbencher would have so much to say about what his Government was proposing. I did highlight that David Davis had also made a good speech but it is worth highlighting it a bit more fully to show that detention and all the other points of he mentioned in his resignation speech are not a new subject for David Davis.

Its starts out

It is a particular pleasure to face across the Dispatch Box the Lord High Chancellor, the real Deputy Prime Minister and now, it seems, the acting Home Secretary as well. I have followed the career of the right hon. Gentleman since he was a left-wing firebrand leading the National Union of Students, so it was a particular pleasure to watch him at the heart of the British establishment yesterday, retreating down the steps of the throne in his cloak and tights. I should tell the Lord Chancellor, who was not in a position to hear, that the Prime Minister, watching this scene, turned and said, "Now this is a constitutional reform of which I do approve."
Jack Straw replies
What, walking backwards?
David Davis continues
That is right.

The right hon. Gentleman also knows that I rather approve of him, although I should tell him that when dealing with his successors as Home Secretary, who passed in rather rapid succession, I always thought of him as the one that got away. [ Interruption. ] He agrees.

The Government have approached the Queen's Speech in each of the past 10 years under the misguided assumption that they can meet the challenges Britain faces by sheer volume of new legislation. After 60 Home Office Bills introduced by the Government, it is overwhelmingly clear that law making is no substitute for law enforcement. It is not possible to legislate away gun violence, which has multiplied under this Government, or to legislate away the Government's failure to count, let alone control, immigration, and it is not possible to legislate away the failure to build enough prison places—despite the comments of the Lord Chancellor a moment ago—which has led to the release of 8,500 serious criminals since the new Prime Minister took office.

When it comes to security, the Government have spent a huge amount of time, energy and resources on controversial policies that are ineffective, if not downright counterproductive. Why are the Government wasting billions on ID cards, when the IT can be corrupted by terrorists using a gadget costing £100? Why, with 2,000 individuals threatening our security, are the Government wasting so much energy on a control order regime that monitors 14 terrorists and is so ineffective that seven have escaped, most without trace? Why the fixation on extended detention without trial, which I suspect will be the main issue today, without a shred of evidence that we need longer? Such a change will cut off vital co-operation from local communities and we have emergency powers to deal with the nightmare scenarios that Ministers keep speculating about.

Before coming on to the proposals from the Home Office, I inform the Lord Chancellor that we agree with a number of proposals from his Department. But I have to say that they read rather like an indictment of Labour's record over the past 10 years. There is a Bill to guard against the politicisation of the civil service. We look forward to learning from the Government's experience. There will be reform to require greater parliamentary scrutiny of war-making powers. The former Foreign Secretary is uniquely well qualified to guide us through that. There will be a review of the ban on protestors outside Parliament, but presumably not on hecklers at Labour party conferences.

When it comes to tackling crime, the Government are exhausted, despite the Lord Chancellor's brave words earlier. We heard his numbers; the truth is that violent crime has doubled. They can argue about the figures all they like. The public know the reality on our streets and they have lost all trust in what Ministers say. The single most important measure the Government could have announced today would be to cut the red tape that ties officers to their desks. The Home Secretary claims that the Government have cut 9,000 forms, but when we asked her only two weeks ago to list them, she could not. So I do not expect much of Labour's fifth major review of police red tape that is due in the new year.

A Conservative Government will take the first opportunity to slash red tape and replace it with direct accountability that will get our police back on the streets, cutting crime and responding to the needs of local communities. I understand that the Lord Chancellor is warming to the idea of direct accountability. Perhaps he can clarify his position—or the Home Secretary can do it for us—by telling the House in clear terms whether locally elected police commissioners will be the next policy his Government try to pinch from the Conservative party.

Then we come to the Government's recent statements on immigration, which were a classic demonstration of how they operate. They simply cannot be trusted on this issue. Anyone reading the papers yesterday or the day before would have expected to hear in the Gracious Speech about an immigration Bill that would cut immigration by 35,000—that was the headline. Earlier in the week, one paper said that a "new immigration Bill" setting out a "points-based system" that will

"slash immigration by 35,000 a year will be at the heart of Gordon Brown's first Queen's Speech".

That is wrong on two counts. First, no immigration Bill in this Queen's Speech introduces a points system. It does not exist—it is not there. Secondly, it is misleading because the Government have said that the points system, which is already in place, is not about setting a limit on immigration. The Home Office, in a burst of honesty, said that it could not predict the numbers. A former Immigration Minister said that the system was not about letting fewer or more people in, and the current Minister for Borders and Immigration, when asked how a points-based system would reduce the number of migrants said he was

"not the general secretary of a Soviet-style central planning system".—[ Official Report, 30 April 2007; Vol. 459, c. 1226.]

The Prime Minister will be disappointed.

The Government's proposals on counter-terrorism, however, formed a key component of the Gracious Speech. Only this week, we have heard from the head of MI5 about the growing number of terror suspects—a threat level rising faster than our capacity to monitor it. My party believes that we need a renewed effort across all parties to confront and scale back the terrorist threat. We will join the Government in supporting every effective and appropriate measure with that aim in view. We have called for the introduction of post-charge questioning for two years. We hope that the Government will take swift action on the matter. We shall look closely at arrangements for using DNA in terrorism investigations, and at the workability of proposals for monitoring those convicted of terrorism offences after their release, with the Government's woeful track record on enforcing control orders firmly in mind.

There are areas where we shall urge the Government to go further, and I shall be interested to hear the Home Secretary's views on those when she makes her winding-up speech later today. We intend to bring forward concrete proposals in the context of the Bill to ban fully Hezbollah's activities in Britain, to take action to ensure that charities are not used to finance groups engaged in terrorism and to review the Government's confused approach to banning extremist organisations that preach hatred and violence against this country. We want to see a zero-tolerance approach to those involved in terror.

I had intended to avoid commenting on the question of intercept evidence today in light of the cross-party review that is under way. However, since there was no mention of the review in the Queen's Speech, and since the Home Secretary felt able to brief newspapers that she was hardening against any change in the law, I no longer feel so restrained. Foreign intercept evidence is already used in British courts. Intercept is used in nearly every US prosecution of organised crime and terrorism. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and US prosecutors say that intercept is more often than not the decisive evidence that leads to a conviction. Using intercept will be cost-effective because where used it often results in an early guilty plea and encourages co-operation with the police. The Director of Public Prosecutions, the last Attorney-General and senior officers in the Met have called for intercept to be used in the courts.

The Home Secretary now briefs that she is concerned about compromising the value of intercept as an intelligence-gathering tool, but every other country has found a way to protect sources. Terror suspects are already acutely aware that they may be monitored, but they still use mobile phones. If in any specific case there is a really serious objection, the answer is simple: we do not use intercept in that case. That is why the Australian Director of Public Prosecutions said:

"If you are not using intercept, you aren't being serious."

Let us consider the vexed and central issue of extending detention without charge. We remain open to cross-party dialogue, although internal Government consultations appear to have settled the matter. Their security adviser, Lord West, stated:

"We have to show absolutely that we really do need this".

The Home Secretary's answer to the Select Committee on Home Affairs was:

"I accept that there has not been a circumstance in which it has been necessary up to this point to go beyond 28 days."

Jacqui Smith interjects (stupidly)
Thank goodness.
David Davis continues
I shall deal with the Home Secretary's sotto voce comment of "Thank goodness" because she appeared to imagine that we had picked the number out of the air. It is the longest time for which people can be held without charge in the free world. That is hardly a matter of pride for the Home Secretary to pick on, so we shall come back to her shortly.

The last time the House held the debate—the so-called 90-day debate—the Government did not present any evidence that 90 days were necessary. Instead, they presented an argument that 90 days might be necessary if certain circumstances came to pass. The result was the Government's defeat in the House for the first time in 10 years because they persuaded almost nobody.

Regrettably, a circumstance that greatly resembled the one that the Government described came to pass in the alleged Heathrow plot of August 2006. It was alleged to involve a simultaneous attack, which was believed to be imminent, on 10 airliners. It involved many people and locations, some potentially hazardous, and many computers. The Home Secretary said on the radio this morning that three terabytes of data were involved—I will challenge her about that in the coming weeks. The plot raised problems of evidence gathering. It involved information from a foreign intelligence agency, which, of course, slows things down. The police had to move earlier than they would have chosen, before all their evidence was gathered, because the threat was thought to be imminent. It was almost an exact replica of the imaginary case that Mr. Hayman presented in support of 90 days.

In practice, were 90 days needed? Not at all. Nowhere near 90 days were needed. Fifteen of the defendants were charged in 19 days or less. Five suspects were kept beyond 19 days, two of whom were charged at the 28-day point. Were the full 28 days needed to collect the evidence?

The speech continues on with a number of interruptions but the above give a flavour of what David Davis was thinking over 8 months ago on the detention laws. Read it all here.

Don't forget to visit the new website David Davis for Freedom.

That is right. The right hon....: 7 Nov 2007: House of Commons debates (

Monday, June 16, 2008

Nimrod families want safety talks

The BBC reports that the families of 14 Servicemen killed in and RAF Nimrod crash in Afghanistan in 2006 want to have safety talks with the Armed Forces minister. They are upset about how the minister was able to make immediate comment about the airworthiness of the Nimrod without reading the coroners report. Robert Dicketts, father of L/Cpl Oliver Dicketts, 27 - who was killed in the explosion - has written to Mr Ainsworth on behalf of all the families of those killed as follows

First of all we were all very upset that you felt able to make an immediate comment about the airworthiness of the Nimrod fleet before you even had the chance to read the coroner's verdict.

Bearing in mind the seriousness of the matter we would have thought that you should have first read it, and then called in your experts to advise you before making any comments.

It is clear to us that your experts have completely different information to that which we heard in the coroner's court.

In view of this we would ask that we have a meeting to both review your experts' evidence and that which we heard.

He also added that the minister would be aware several experts had
Stated quite clearly the fleet was still not airworthy and continued that in cases where the experts thought the plane was still airworthy they had, in some cases, had their evidence "discredited".

Speaking after the inquest coroner Andrew Walker said the fleet had "never been airworthy" as he recorded narrative verdicts.

Des Browne reacted by saying changes made to the Nimrod meant it was now safe for crews.

All in all this is most unsatisfactory. We have a government insisting something is OK and a Coroner saying it isn't. Who are we to believe, we know now that the initial design of the Nimrod was unsafe so even with the modifications it still has the design problems. The Nimrod is still essential to the RAF's role in Afghanistan let us also hope it is also up to the job of keeping its crews safe.

More posts about the Nimrod here.

BBC NEWS UK Nimrod families want safety talks

Arse and Elbow - Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown as usual showing he can't tell his arse from his elbow. The Three Line Whip reports:

One of Gordon Brown's flunkies ought to tell him that there is no such unit in the British Army as the Second Parachute Regiment (10pm news BBC).

The five soldiers killed in Helmand last week came from the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, also known as 2 Para.

The Prime Minister might think that such small errors don't really matter but I bet the wives, mothers, father, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends of those five dead young men who died in service of this country do.

It's these sort of "little" things that get you in the end. The inability to get the details right of something as simple as this is why Brown is now becoming one of the most despised Prime Ministers ever. RIP.

Gordon Brown’s Armed Forces gaffe : June 2008 : Three Line Whip : Politics : Telegraph Blogs

You are Stupid and we Know it - Democracy

Via the Devil's Kitchen we get this sublime comment on us stupid proles from the Romanians.

Referenda and Democracy
The EU has now accumulated significant (bad) experiences with referenda. It was very delicately yet effectively communicated by the Romanian social-democrat MEPs: “The referendum in Ireland has demonstrated that direct democracy (by way of referendum) cannot ensure the progress of the European process. The security, liberty and prosperity of hundreds of millions of European citizens ask for complex leadership actions, which cannot be appreciated by heterogeneous populations, from the point of view of the information level and the education one.European integration is a process that must be conducted politically by the elected representatives of the European citizens.

It's good to see that our elected representative place such high value on the general public. I assume the non-PC version of this is

F***** thick Micks think they can hold us to ransom, well b***** them
The Devil's Kitchen: MEPs: You're Too Stupid To Vote

100 holes for 100 years (and Granddad)

I blogged on this on Saturday under the Title 100 holes for Grandad.

This is the article online, which is a bit of a surprise as the Deeside Piper only puts a few of it's articles online. This one has a different photo.

100 holes for 100 years - Deeside Today

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Why we should not ratify the Lisbon Treaty.

Read the following article in the Financial Times to see why we should never trust the Eurocrats to be in any way responsible for our country.

Some of the choice quotes are as follows

Why am I so confident that the Lisbon treaty is going to be implemented? Because, contrary to widespread protestations, Europe’s leaders actually have a plan B. It is not a pretty plan. Just listen to what senior French and German politicians had to say over the weekend. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, suggested on Saturday that one way to implement the treaty was for Ireland to withdraw temporarily from the process of European integration. This is a fairly exotic comment for an otherwise non-exotic minister. I had no idea that that you could temporarily withdraw from the EU and rejoin it later, as though you were buying a forward contract with an option attached. What he is saying in effect is that Ireland should quit the EU.
And another near the end
What if the Irish government refused to hold a second referendum? In that case I would suspect a frantic discussion about enforcing the Lisbon treaty without the Irish. I honestly have no idea of how this could work. I know this appears to be in contravention of European law. But then again, European law may not be quite as predictable as you may think. It is not enforced by pundits, but by an often unpredictable court. My hunch is that if the 26 member states really wanted to do this, they would find a legal way.
What does all this say. It basically means that we have a bunch of Eurocrats in France and Germany who will never take "no" as an answer,. To them no is just something to be worked around. They maintain this is the will of the people, but only one country has so far had the right to vote on the Lisbon Treaty and they have said NO.

Other countries are also possibly either going to say no or are having trouble ratifying the Treaty.

Meanwhile in the deep, dark bunker that is Gordon Brown's abode thoughts of how to extract himself from this mess will be ongoing. Does he hope the Irish have done him a favour and made the Lisbon treaty disappear or will it wake up the call for us not to ratify the Treaty without a referendum, you remember the one Gordon promised us.

H/T to Seant on Political Betting

Europe’s hardball plan B for the Lisbon treaty