Wednesday 11 December 2013
The serious point made yesterday
about UKIP's lack of policy coherence on immigration rears its head again, with a blogpost
from the Financial Times
on "posted workers" (free registration required).
Actually, the issue was picked up on Saturday by Reuters which told us of the antagonism caused by the use of posted workers in France. These, we are told are workers employed in one EU Member State but sent by his employer on a temporary basis to carry out his work in another Member State.
For example, a service provider may win a contract in another country and send his employees there to carry out the contract. This trans-national provision of services, where employees are sent to work in a Member State other than the one they usually work in, gives rise to a distinctive category, namely that of "posted workers". This category does not include migrant workers to go to another Member State to seek work and are employed there.
Although "posted workers" must be paid at least the minimum wage of the country in which they work, social payments (National Insurance, etc) are made in the country of origin, which can be considerable less than in the posted country. And that allows contractors to undercut local labour.
Now cut to David Cameron, who has been loudly campaigning for a crackdown on EU migration in an effort to curb the influx of workers from poorer member states to Britain. But, this week, his government tried to block key amendments to the Posted Workers Directive that seeks to reduce the inflow of workers from central and eastern Europe to wealthier member states.
The directive was actually agreed by member states in 1996 to make it easier for EU workers to carry out work outside of their home country for a limited period of time but a number of countries led by France, Germany and Belgium have over the years complained that the directive was being used to undercut local labour rules in more prosperous countries. Essentially, workers from poorer countries offered their services at below market prices without asking for any social security contributions.
So it was that EU member state employment ministers agreed on Monday to change the directive by introducing a number of safeguards against what is described in Brussels as "social dumping" – using cheap labour from poorer countries at the expense of local workers in richer nations.
This means, for instance, that posted workers from Poland working for a Polish subcontractor in France will have to be paid as much a French worker. Such change should make it less attractive for German or French companies to hire workers from poorer countries as they will not be able to pay them less than a local worker.
However, the British government has opposed amendments "because it would add to the burdens on businesses that want to trade and take advantage of the single market". EU officials respond by saying that this attempt to block rules against social dumping contradicted the Tory leader's view that the right to free movement of EU citizens cannot be a completely unqualified.
Bizarrely though, Poland, traditionally a close ally of the Brits on a number of EU matters, unexpectedly decided to vote in favour of the anti-social dumping amendments, breaking away from its previous position.
This puts the UK on the "naughty step", isolated from its potential ally and antagonising the likes of France and Germany on which it must rely for support across the board on a wide range of matters. Had Mr Cameron set out to damage his own position, he could not have done better.
Once again, that gives UKIP an open goal and, once again, we get silence from that quarter. The party is out to lunch once more.
Tuesday 10 December 2013
A remarkable report has just come my way, which largely vindicates the view I was taking during the Iraq and Afghan campaigns, when it was fashionable in the media and the Tory political claque to blame the then Labour government for all the failures and shortcomings in theatre.
This is a Chatham House Report by James de Waal, entitled "Depending on the Right People - British Political-Military Relations, 2001–10", published only last month.
"There is a widespread view that Britain's politicians should bear the main blame for the country's military difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan", de Waal writes. "In particular, they are accused of failing to heed professional military advice and of launching over-ambitious missions with insufficient resources".
"Recent evidence", he then says:
… including from the Iraq Inquiry, shows that this view is too simplistic. Instead, Britain seems to have suffered a wider failure of the government system, with politicians, senior military officers and civil servants all playing their part.
Faced with a challenging international and domestic political situation, policy-makers often acted with good intentions but variable results. Politicians and civil servants did not wish to be accused of interfering with military planning, and so did little to ensure that military action supported political aims.
They were also apprehensive of the close relationship between the armed forces and the media, and were therefore reluctant to challenge military opinion. For their part, some senior officers showed little appreciation of the political impact of military action, while others felt their role was principally to support the institutional interests of their branch of the armed forces.
Only 36 pages long, the report needs to be read fully. But, in one respect, de Waal should not be allowed to get away with his talk of "recent evidence". In this and our sister blog, Defence of the Realm
, we were writing of such matters from 2005 onwards
and, by 2009, were writing this
, pointing out the culpability of the General Staff in the ongoing military failures.
It was that year that I published Ministry of Defeat
a book which is still probably the best single narrative on the failure in Iraq. It was ignored by the claque
, sadly unreviewed by any one of them, because it told a tale that they didn't want to hear.
Then, by 2010, even some of the newspapers were doing catch-up, invoking an angry response
from me, noting that while the media was having wet dreams about the saintly Dannatt, and the blogosphere and media alike – along with the Tory opposition and its claque
- was chanting "under-resourced" and "over-stretch", I was telling a completely different story.
So, when James de Waal, Visiting Fellow in the International Security Department at Chatham House talks blithely of "recent evidence", he is being more than a little disingenuous. The evidence was there at the time, for anyone to see.
All that is different now is that, with the distance of time, the establishment is beginning to acknowledge some of the truth of what has long been evident to all those outside the bubble. But, if at last some military culpability is at last being acknowledged by the august Chatham House, they are still nowhere near learning what really went wrong and why.
Instead, the establishment plays its usual tricks of trying to control the message. De Waal will only admit that some parts of the press have "started" to examine the quality of decision-making at senior military levels, "partly fuelled by criticism from younger mid-level officers liberated by their retirement from the forces and the moral authority provided by their operational experience".
All de Waal then offers is ideas about how the government should make its decision-making process on the use of force subject to a formal code, approved by parliament. But the issue was never about process. It was about the quality of decisions.
Our generals were not up to the job, and no amount of tweaking the process will make poor generalship any better. But you will never get Chatham House to admit that.
Tuesday 10 December 2013
"Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me", goes the famous line from Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo. And now, as Oscar Wilde would have it, life follows art: Nigel Farage is telling his troops: "the establishment and media are out to get us".
Actually, this invites another saying, something along the lines of the great detective Mr Holmes afflicted by a bout of constipation. The idea that the media will do anything other than indulge in mischief belongs in the land of the fayries.
Nonetheless, Farage has warned UKIP activists to be "extra vigilant" about any attempts to paint them in a "nasty light" after a video emerged showing councillor Victoria Ayling saying, of immigrants, she would like to "send the lot back".
Not for UKIP though is the point made in my last piece that the antidote to this "nastiness" is a properly crafted policy on immigration. With Mr Cameron so clearly out of his depth, UKIP are staring down the mouth of an open goal. Yet, as so often, instead of propelling the ball into the net, the party goes out to lunch.
There in the latest part of the Government's "Balance of Competences study" – to which UKIP has made no contribution – has been a perfect opportunity to shine. Looking specifically at freedom of movement, it had been due to be released yesterday. But, according to reports, it has now been shelved until next year because Theresa May takes issues with its findings.
Specifically, so much of the evidence submitted has been "broadly positive about current rules for freedom of movement" that the Government's rhetoric about cracking down on migrants has been left in tatters.
Filling the political vacuum by putting together ideas which will serve to manage the immigration problem would not only be a public service. It would alsoshow up the embarrassing inadequacies of our policy-makers and serve to establish UKIP as a responsible political party.
It is in the absence of that comprehensive, workable policy that UKIP is prey to accusations of bad faith. It really is as simple as that. But the style of The Great Leader always has been more rhetoric than substance, the "man-in-pub" of British politics.
However, he plumbs new depths of absurdity when he urges supporters to remember that it is "not always clear who we can trust". There are, says Farage, "many opportunists trying to undermine the party". And with that, we wonder whether one of them, perchance, is called Nigel Farage.
COMMENT: "UKIP" THREAD
Tuesday 10 December 2013
There is no more potent symbol of statehood than military power, writes Geoffrey Van Orden in the Telegraph. It is not surprising therefore that Eurocrats regard defence policy as a key element in their drive for a state called Europe, playing a role on the global stage.
That, of course, was the objective in 1950 when the then French Prime Minister René Pleven, gave his name to a plan for a European Defence Community (EDC) leading then to Monnet's European Political Community and the first European constitution.
Lacking support from the French parliament, the plan died but the one thing the "colleagues" never do it give up. And now, Van Orden tells us, we are coming to another crunch – sort of. The forthcoming European Council (19/20 December) has long been trailed in Brussels as a "Defence Council" to take a great leap forward in the EU's Common Security & Defence Policy (CSDP).
The "leap", though, is more like a puddle jump. Some modest defence-related decisions have been taken by Ministers in recent weeks so Prime Ministers and heads of government will spend most of their time on economic issues.
Thus, Van Orden surmises that the tide may have at last turned. Among the major European powers there is no appetite for an ambitious EU military policy. The emphasis has focused more on civil activities in terms of crisis prevention, humanitarian assistance, and post-conflict reconstruction.
That might actually allow the EU to do something useful in terms of complementing rather than trying to imitate, NATO's military muscle.
Rehearsing recent history, Van Orden tells us that the UK brake on EU involvement in defence was removed by Mr Blair at St Malo in 1998 when he agreed with France that the EU should develop an "autonomous" military capability. Much flowed from that declaration. Mr Blair wanted to raise his game in Europe and defence was his strongest card. It also played to long-standing French desires to separate European security from United States influence through NATO.
While contributing little of practical value, the EU placed its institutional footprint on an increasing range of defence-related activities, wastefully duplicating staff and structures already very well established at NATO. These included an EU Military Committee, an EU Military Staff, an intelligence assessment staff, and a European Defence College to promote an EU defence culture.
What the EU military capability excelled in though was power-point presentations, all to illustrate an impressive narrative of activity, including some 30 operational "CSDP missions". Most were self-generated. Few stood up to scrutiny and, as it happens, they were mainly civilian.
As one American top General put it, "the EU installed the plumbing but there wasn't any water". It provided no additional military capabilities - not one additional warship, combat aircraft or soldier. Its lofty aim of 60,000 troops standing ready for dispatch on some imaginary EU-flagged military operation came to nothing.
Even the successor concept of smaller and clearly misnamed 'EU battle groups', has yet to meet reality and identify a useful role, except that it has cast a long shadow over British strategic thinking, locking procurement plans into a rapid reaction concept that is neither rapid nor capable of effective reaction.
Van Orden argues that the naked pursuit of a European Army for political purposes might "upset" key powers such as Britain, so the EU has busily sought alternative justifications for its ambitions. The latest is the "comprehensive approach" which enables it to claim some "unique" amalgam of civil and military capabilities. But the EU is incapable of getting both parts of the civil-military equation right.
Many of those that inhabit the EU civil sphere, including NGOs, have little understanding of, or taste for, the military, and the EU even has difficulty coordinating its own activities.
At one stage, for example, its civil delegation in Kampala had nothing to do with its Uganda-based military training mission for Somali recruits. In Afghanistan, EU personnel sat in offices in different parts of Kabul, rarely communicated with one another and had little coordination with the main effort which was, of course, being run by NATO.
While the EU has tried to press on regardless, we can now see that the high point of EU military ambition was reached with the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. This established a "'High Representative" as the putative EU Foreign and Defence Minister, gave formal blessing to a European Defence Agency, and enshrined a dangerous "mutual defence" clause, which the EU has no capacity to fulfil and which was just a pale imitation of NATO's robust Article 5.
But for the Eurocrats, says Van Orden, military effectiveness was always secondary. The current High Representative, Baroness Ashton, let this slip when she stated that the "first (priority for CSDP) is political, and it concerns fulfilling Europe's ambitions on the world stage .... The EU needs to remain a credible security and defence player on the world stage". More attention is paid to EU military "visibility" than its relevance.
But now we come to the propaganda. It has taken British Conservative Ministers to recognise the nature of CSDP, Van Orden now asserts. They have now seen that we cannot, in one breath, seek to distance ourselves from "ever closer union" and call for repatriation of powers from Brussels, and in another acquiesce in a flagship EU policy designed to deepen political integration and extend EU competence.
The EU has no military requirements different from those of NATO. It may make sense for less capable countries to get together to improve capabilities, provided they have the will to use them, but there is absolutely no need for the EU to be involved in any of this. Nor does the EU need to be involved in multi-national defence industrial projects.
Britain's strategic priority is to ensure that the US remains fully engaged in NATO, and, elusively, to get European Allies to develop their military capability in a way that will contribute more effectively to the Alliance. Creating wasteful, duplicative EU structures has never been the solution to this.
As we reject the idea of a state called Europe, Van Orden concludes, then it is right that we should discourage construction of its military arm. and he is right as far as it goes. But "discourage" has hardly been on the agendas. Strategic thinking has been dominated by the European concept of a rapid reaction force. The UK has been an active player in supporting the capability.
Now, with the "future army" unbalanced, and our own independent capability shredded, we have more fighters in our museums than we have flying and more admirals than ships. The vainglorious ambitions of the European have cast a long shadow, and we are the ones that are paying the price.
Monday 9 December 2013
I doubt I'm alone in being irritated by newspapers which claim to have "revealed" material that can easily picked up from the internet. Thus we are distinctly underwhelmed by a "Telegraph investigation" which discloses that the EU is operating 140 overseas delegations at an annual cost of more than £420 million.
Not only that, it would seem that the expenditure figure "revealed" by this stunning investigation is an under-estimate. According to EU documentation, delegations cost €565,388,533.43 – equivalent to £474 million at current rates of exchange, or nearly £55 million more than the Telegraph estimates.
Furthermore, while the "Telegraph analysis" shows 29 EEAS officials "earn a basic salary, excluding benefits, worth £150,000 a year, more than David Cameron as Prime Minister", the EU figures tell a different story.
In fact, there are 35 staff currently listed on pay scales where the minimum is above £150,000 (AD 15-16), but there are also 119 staff on pay scale AD 14. On this scale, "step 5" is paid the annual equivalent of £153,047.49 – making potentially 154 officials earning more than the prime minister.
To turn their data into a "news" story, however, reporters Robert Mendick and Edward Malnick employ the jaded trick of having the European External Action Service (EEAS), "accused today of spending hundreds of millions of pounds on a vast empire of overseas offices staffed by highly-paid bureaucrats". Two minor figures are then later shoehorned into the story to give the accusations some sort of substance.
What is then even less than helpful is the description of these delegations as "effectively embassies and consulates", which they are not in any real sense. Their purpose is to "help to oversee billions of pounds spent on EU projects around the globe" and they "can negotiate in trade and political talks".
Those functions effectively allow the delegations to be styled as embassies, and the head of delegations as EU ambassadors, but there are no consular functions carried out. The EU does not (as yet) issue passports or carry out other such duties which go towards such a role.
Were that the case, we would seriously have to argue about costs. Currently, the total budget of the EEAS is €747 million (2012) – including the head office function in Brussels - compared with the cost
of the British FCO at £2.175 billion, taking in administration costs of over £1 billion.
But what is being missed here – amongst other things - is the role of the EEAS in representing the EU (and member states) to the UN and the WTO. To that effect, it maintains a large delegation in Geneva, where it is active across a wide range of issues from Human Rights, Disarmament, Trade and Development to humanitarian assistance, migration and asylum, health and labour issues, intellectual property and the environment.
The point here is that the EU is taking over some functions previously carried out by UK diplomats and officials. They (or their equivalents) presumably now work at EU level. However, since 2006-7 FCO staff levels have dropped from 7,005 to 4,450 currently, and are planned to fall to 4,285 by 2014-15. Administrative costs are projected to fall to £904 million, cutting over £100 million from that budget.
By contrast, according to the Telegraph, the EEAS has 3,417 staff: 1,457 in Brussels and 1,960 in its overseas offices. Not all of these are EU employees though. The EEAS activity report for 2012
(the latest available on the interwebby thingy) gives a total of 3,376 staff, of which 1,509 were EU staff (temporary and permanent).
Fron the outside, there were 356 seconded national experts, 32 "young experts in delegations", 323 contract agents and 1,116 local agents. The split was 1,467 in Brussels and 1,909 based in delegations.
Eventually, we are told
, the EEAS will have a staff of about 5,400 and there seems to be a relationship between the increase in EU functions and the decline in the national staffing levels (at least, as far as the UK goes). As the EU grows, the UK dies.
And there, possibly, lies a further twist. In the event that Britain does leave the EU (when, not if), FCO diplomats will be needed back at the ranch. Instead of working for or with the EU, they are going to have to earn their living with real diplomacy. But all those personnel cuts may have to be reversed, and the money increased.
For the moment though, the real story is that cuts to the FCO budget are being absorbed by the EU, which is taking our money and usurping our diplomatic functions. But then, we can hardly "reveal" this. We knew that already.
Sunday 8 December 2013
As an indication of the hazards facing Britain's alternative party, the Mail on Sunday dedicates its front page today to an exposé of UKIP councillor Victoria Ayling saying of immigrants: "I just want to send the lot back".
The comment comes in an aside between "takes" for a self-promotional film, where she has just said: "We must control immigration. We cannot sustain the numbers coming in; the strains on our infrastructure are enormous. Control should be done fairly and the points system like they have in Australia and all those coming here should be encouraged to speak English so they can integrate".
Only then does she add, in a remark clearly not intended for use: "I just want to send the lot back but I can't say that".
Ironically, Ayling made the video in 2008 – five years ago - to promote her bid to become a Tory MEP. And, according to the Mail, it was provided to them by her then husband – from whom she has since split. It was he who had been operating the camera.
Ayling has declined to apologise for the comment, saying she was only referring to illegal immigrants. And Nigel Farage has taken a fairly laid-back view, saying: "I had no reason to believe she held views that were extreme or inconsistent with ours. While this comment looks odd and unpleasant there may be a context here that is slightly different to the way it appears".
Irrespective of how this episode is finessed, though, Farage's problem is that Ayling's comment is indeed entirely consistent with the general thrust of UKIP's stance on immigration. No one watching UKIP closely can escape the view that that party's mood music is close to the BNP and there are many in the party who would support wholesale repatriation.
In the absence of any coherent policy, or sensible analysis, the party was already vulnerable to the charge of harbouring a racially-driven policy. And, after the overt support of the oaf Bloom from many members, there can be few doubts that the party is pitching to hoover up BNP refugees after the collapse of their party.
Therein, in my view, lies one of UKIP's more serious problems. It is not so much the unguarded comment of a single ex-Tory councillor that is doing such damage as is there to be done, but the indications that she does indeed represent the bulk of the party membership. Only if UKIP had been a serious player, offering sensible and well-founded analysis and policy, would it be harder for the charge to stick.
On the face of it, UKIP should be benefiting hugely from the immigration issue, and recently that appeared to be the case, with an Opinium poll giving the party 19 percent of the vote. But, over the last three days the YouGov tracker poll has given it ten, fourteen and then eleven points. It should be doing better.
But the fact that a five-year-old comment by a former Conservative supporter can be resurrected and used to damage UKIP tells its own story. And, if my analysis is anything like correct, the antidote is well-founded and imaginative policy, sensitively crafted so as to slay the racism dragon.
There, the difficulty is that of all the many issues needing to be addressed, immigration is one of the most complex, involving many different areas of public policy. Nothing we have seen in recent times (or at all) gives any sign that UKIP is capable of producing (much less delivering) worthwhile policy in this or related areas.
Unless UKIP decides to deal with policy at a higher level, my guess is that it will always be prone to attacks such as the Mail has chosen to mount. And, since
this current attack is from a paper that is supposed to be (but isn't) "eurosceptic", the party has a bigger problem than it thinks.
Sunday 8 December 2013
I wouldn't necessarily agree with all of this, and I have little sympathy for the pleas of destitution and poverty, but here Nick Cohen offers a very scathing insight into the complete mismanagement and fraud attached to welfare reform. Nobody has been more vocal on the need for welfare reform than I, and there's a lot that needs to be done, but this is looking like yet another gravy train for corporate parasites who will not be held to account for their failures.
But I think the problem lies in the notion that the top-down system as it stands is reformable at all. It won't matter who is in charge at the DWP, or which company is commissioned to roll out any new system. The fact remains that no system of this scale and complexity is workable in the time frames given. The nature of bureaucracies means that you have different agendas pulling in opposite directions, that can only result in mediocrity and failure. The bigger and more generic a system is, the less relevant it is to its users. The same is absolutely true of all corporate IT.
What the DWP intends to do is to create a system that takes human judgement out of the equation, which will inevitably produce a de-skilled public service whereby a job centre advisor is little more than a clueless call centre operator. Another tier in our "computer says no" society.
I am of the view that only a trained eye can really make the call as to who is worthy of welfare and who is not, and indeed the level of help claimants need. From what I hear, the Job Centre experience is becoming farcical, whereby guilt is assumed and fraud always suspected - by the computer, and the operator lacks both the judgement and autonomy to override it.
The solution is to devolve welfare policy and administration to councils and let them figure it out, and apply their own rates. There is a huge diversity of circumstances around the country and various economic disparities that means what works in one area, does not for another. The so called "bedroom tax" is actually working in terms of challenging the dependency mindset, more than it is relieving pressure on housing stock, but it is still very much a London solution to London problems. Similarly, London rates of welfare applied to the North means that welfare is actually too generous in some areas, and not enough in others. The chief beneficiaries of this are largely "welfare farm" landlords.
The only way we can have proper, democratic, accountable welfare is if it is in the hands of the people who pay for it - designed by local people who know the circumstances of their region. A national, centralised welfare system can only ever be dictatorial, bureaucratic, wasteful and wide open to fraud both by welfare recipients and the corporates who administer it. The reason national government keeps such an iron grip on welfare is because it is a mechanism of electoral manipulation, and more fundamentally, they do not trust us to run our own affairs.
I salute any moves toward dismantling the monster that is our nanny welfare state. Reversing the culture of dependency, largely instilled by New Labour, is something of a national emergency. And that extends to tax credits, housing benefit, child benefit and the myriad of other handouts. But without addressing the obvious structural flaw in central administration of complex systems, it will remain in the hands of the politicians who created this problem in the first place. And we will be back here again and again. This is why we need The Harrogate Agenda.
Sunday 8 December 2013
The newspapers have been trawling over this story all week, commentators on specialist legal blogs have been dissecting it, the Judge concerned has published judgements and transcripts and Essex Social Services have issued a statement. The mother has been interviewed in the Daily Mail and has been named and her photograph published.
Yet, after all that the Sunday Telegraph publishes the Booker column, with him relying on information in the public domain, and still the newspaper does not permit comments on the online version. The other two stories are published on-line here, though, and commenting is allowed. However, all three stories are reproduced above: click the pic to expand to readable size.
Saturday 7 December 2013
If anything ought to be dominating the front pages, displacing the torrent of Mandelitis, perhaps it could be this - if anybody could understand the implications.
We are talking here about "the first global trade deal since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) nearly two decades ago". But if you are the Guardian, this is baaaad as it "has been condemned by anti-poverty groups as a boost for big business at the expense of developing nations".
On the other hand, if you are the Telegraph then you just focus on the "deal to boost global trade", potentially worth $1 trillion over time. It also keeps alive the WTO's broader Doha Round of trade negotiations, we are told.
After 12 years of talks, WTO director general, Roberto Azevêdo, was certainly a happy man as the agreement was signed in Bali by ministers from the body's 159 member countries on Friday, "after last-minute concessions to India over food subsidies".
Azevêdo shed tears during the summit's closing ceremony on Saturday as he thanked the host nation, Indonesia, and his wife. "For the first time in our history, the WTO has truly delivered" on large-scale negotiations, he said. "This time the entire membership came together. We have put the 'world' back in World Trade Organisation," he said. "We're back in business … Bali is just the beginning".
Just for once, though, reference to the original documentation doesn't help very much as it offers a link to the Draft Bali Ministerial Declaration which in turn offers no less than fifteen draft texts for adoption by ministers, with their relevant links.
Digging deeper into the decision on food security, we find that this refers to an agreement which allows India temporarily to maintain subsidy levels for traditional staple food crops, "in pursuance of public stockholding programmes for food security purposes". This, apparently protects its poorest farmers from US firms dumping surplus agricultural produce.
The talks were also threatened at the 11th hour when Cuba objected to removal of a reference to the decades-long US trade embargo that Cuba wants lifted but way was cleared "to ease barriers to trade by reducing import duties, simplifying customs procedures and making those procedures more transparent to end years of corruption at ports and border controls".
At least one person isn't impressed though. This is Simon Evenett, professor of international trade at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland. "Beyond papering over a serious dispute on food security, precious little progress was made at Bali", he says, "Dealing with the fracas on food security sucked the oxygen out of the rest of the talks".
But Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement (WDM), was even less impressed.
He warns that this is "an agreement for transnational corporations not the world's poor", arguing that, "The aggressive stance of the US and EU means that we have moved only a little, and shows again that the WTO can never be a forum for creating a just and equal global economic system".
Dearden avers that a succession of planned bilateral deals on a range of goods and services threatened the WTO and represented "the biggest shift of power from people to corporations that we have seen in 10 years" and must be "halted in their tracks".
This is a reference to the EU-US trade talks (TTIP), confirming that they are being used to by-pass the stalled Doha round. The apparent success of the Bali talks may therefore be a response to the challenge presented by TTIP. Evenett might have seen through them but the success is being inflated in order to put WTO back on the map.
Front-page headlines, therefore, might be unwarranted, even if the story has just taken an interesting turn. But it is certainly one to watch.
Saturday 7 December 2013
Even if I was so inclined, there is very little I could add to the torrent of coverage on the death of Nelson Mandela. Other than acknowledging his passing, therefore, I do not intend to comment.
For the last week, though, I have in any case been powering ahead with the Brexit submission. As of last night, I had 19,500 words on screen. Much of that will be re-written and I'm still far from happy with the structure of the essay. With still a great deal more work to be done, I will continue to put most of my effort into this project. But at least you are spared an essay from me about Mandela.