Wednesday 12 March 2014
Despite the EU role in the Somerset flooding, the debacle over Ukraine, the corporate tax avoidance arising from EU's "free movement of capital and payments" provisions, the horsemeat scandal, the silicone breast implants scandal, and sundry other EU-inspired disasters, the latest poll on leaving the EU gives the "outers" 39 percent and the "inners" 41 percent.
With a two percent lead to those who want to stay in the European Union, you might ask what it takes actually to get people to want to leave the evil empire.
But then, most people haven't been told about the EU role in the Somerset flooding, Ukraine, tax avoidance, horsemeat, breast implants, etc., etc. In the main, all they get from the media is the low drone of assorted FUD, with very little counterbalancing intelligence on how the UK could remain in the Single Market once it had left the EU.
It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that the majority are in favour of staying in the European Union. But there is more to it than that. Alongside the FUD, we've also been getting a steady drip-drip of publicity hostile to UKIP, in the Times and then the latest offering from the Daily Mail. This projects the party's London HQ as a bizarre freakshow. It paints a picture that would have most normal people crossing the road to avoid contact with the party, driving out any thought of voting for Mr Farage.
That certainly seems to be the case with at least 80 percent of the population, as the latest ICM poll on European election voting intentions indicates (below). This has 20 percent opting for UKIP, 35 percent for Labour, 25 percent for the Tories and the Lib-Dems on 9 percent.
Against historical performances, 20 percent is an encouraging figure, although it now puts UKIP in third place, and a very long way from the "political earthquake" promised by Mr Farage. If all he is able to deliver is third place, his credibility is on the line. But so is the credibility of the entire anti-EU movement, especially as Mr Farage wants the euro elections to be a referendum on the EU.
Furthermore, on general voting intentions
, the news is even glummer. Labour stands at 38 percent, and the Conservatives creep in with 35 percent. But UKIP drops back to just nine percent in fourth place, while the Lib-Dems claw back third position with 12 percent of the poll.
This is against a background of UKIP flatlining in the polls. Ever since the May "surge", the UKIP vote has been on the decline. Now, YouGov
has the party oscillating between 11-14 percent, with very little movement out of that range for more than six months.
All of that renders rather irrelevant the message of booksellers
Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin. As some time political analysts, they are trying to sell the message that UKIP has greater potential than its poll results indicate. That may be true, but it also illustrates that they are out of their depth.
In terms of "potential", a political party dedicated to leaving the EU (supposedly) should be able to pull in the bulk of the 39 percent who say they want to leave the EU. Such people should, potentially at least, be UKIP voters. But, as we saw last year
, the party also invites some pretty sharp reaction, making it the least liked of all parties. There were then 43 percent who would never vote for it under any circumstances.
As stories abound of bizarre happenings in the party, only so much can be put down to "smears". As they continue, the percentage of "never" voters can only increase. But, even if the "smears" are discounted, there is something which Ford and Goodwin clearly do not understand. That "something" explains what is happening. It explains the poll results.
Essentially, UKIP is empty, devoid of any substance. If it had substance, a solid core, it could ride the smears and still make converts. But the closer people get to the party and the more exposure it gets, the more apparent the emptiness becomes. Unable to counter the FUD, and lacking ability to put the EU on the spot, it seems to be losing us the wider battle, as well as its own battle for votes.
Inertia may get it some sort of victory in the euros, but the chances of it "winning" are now receding. And, on current results, the chances of us winning an "in-out" referendum are nil. That much we do know, now we know the direction of travel.
Tuesday 11 March 2014
No one who looks at today's front page of the Telegraph can avoid recalling the events of 2009. It was then that we saw the repatriation of the Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed Megrahi, followed by a storm of protest and faux indignation at his release.
In particular, one recalls a certain Tim Montgomerie who mounted his high horse, to post the following quote on his site:
It seems to me an utter perversion of the meaning of compassion, both in law and morality, to suggest that an unrepentant, mass murderer of entirely innocent human beings should not be required to end his life in prison.
Yet, even then, it had been known with near certainty for some years that Megrahi had not been responsible for the bombing, or involved in any way. The evidence had long before pointed to Iran as the progenitor, although not at the Syrian quartet currently fingered in the Telegraph piece.
There are details here and, shortly before he died, Paul Foot wrote this in the Guardian asserting Megrahi's innocence, branding his conviction as the last in the long line of British judges' miscarriages of criminal justice.
In brief, Foot argued that the Lockerbie bombing had been carried out not by Libyans at all but by terrorists based in Syria and hired by Iran to avenge the shooting down in the summer of 1988 of an Iranian civil airliner by a US warship.
This had been the line followed by both British and US police and intelligence investigators after Lockerbie. Through favoured newspapers like the Sunday Times, the investigators named the suspects - some of whom had been found with home-made bombs similar to the one used at Lockerbie.
This line of inquiry had persisted until April 1989, when a phone call from President Bush senior to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher warned her not to proceed with it.
A year later, British and US armed forces prepared for an attack on Saddam Hussein's occupying forces in Kuwait. Their coalition desperately needed troops from an Arab country. These were supplied by Syria, which promptly dropped out of the frame of Lockerbie suspects. Libya, not Syria or Iran, mysteriously became the suspect country, and in 1991 the US drew up an indictment against two Libyan suspects.
Thus, the explanation he offered, Foot wrote, was "a terrible indictment of the cynicism, hypocrisy and deceit of the British and US governments and their intelligence services".
That was on 31 March 2004, almost exactly ten years ago, And it has taken the Telegraph those ten years to catch up, with many of the great and the good, to say nothing of the lesser mortals, still to lumbering along in its wake.
Once again, therefore, this newspaper goes to illustrate the mindset of the legacy media as a whole. In their own terms, nothing is news until they say it is, and nothing is true until they themselves say so. Facts are irrelevant, and belief is everything.
Ten years, and more, after it has become plainly evident that Iran was responsible for the Lockerbie bombing, the Telegraph is prepared to believe it as well. And because it is this self-important newspaper changing its beliefs, the conversion becomes front page news.
The remarkable thing is that there is anyone left in this world who trusts what it now tells us.
Tuesday 11 March 2014
The BBC programme "Bang goes the theory" looked last night at the UK's electricity supply and the possibility of power failures. And, without actually identifying it as such, it discussed STOR as a back-up for intermittent wind power, featuring the aggregator KiWi Power Ltd (sequence from 21:25).
Yet, with a heavy emphasis on "green energy", and "carbon reduction targets", there is one very prominent omission from the BBC account. Although KiWi Power offers back-up diesel generation as part of its product mix, there is no mention of this by the BBC.
Instead, the three BBC lovelies, Jem Stansfield, Liz Bonnin and Maggie Philbin, take us through demand side management (DSR), the acceptable face of STOR where, for a fee, willing companies shut down such things as air conditioning to reduce peak demand when the grid is "maxed out".
However, there is no way that anyone looking at Kiwi Power, even at the most superficial level, could avoid knowing something of its diesel generation operations. It is on the company details page of its website (illustrated below). The decision to omit this crucial detail must, therefore, have been deliberate.
But we know even more about Kiwi Power, as we recall here
. On 20 September 2010, its cynical message to the Financial Times
was that selling capacity to the grid was "Money for nothing", something the BBC also failed to mention.
Yet this is also a company that sells "dirty" diesel-generated electricity while concealing it behind a veneer of "green" operations, promising to shrink its clients' carbon footprints - while in certain circumstances increasing it. And this false image the BBC is happy to foster.
Back in 2010, though, it gets even more interesting. Then KiWi Power was telling the Financial Times
that it wanted to work with the National Grid, exploiting a British market thought to be worth £1 billion by 2015, equivalent to five percent extra on our electricity bills - something the BBC also forgets to mention.
Through demand response, operators could make £5,000 to £50,000 a year, KiWi Power's director, Ziko Abram, said. But that was never the major part of the company's business. The real money was always in larger sites with back-up diesel generators, sold by the company as the easiest way
to get started and "turn a cost centre into a source of profit". Clients could receive more than £100,000, selling dirty electricity to the grid via KiWi Power.
Even then, as this document
indicates, some of that capacity may not even exist – known in the trade as phantom Megawatts. Much of the STOR trade is fraudulent.
But nothing of this gets past our state broadcaster. Instead, it tells its lies. For the BBC, the future must be "green" and the idea of wind energy relying on dirty diesel back-up is not one that fits its narrative. Nor can we be allowed to know that it is costing us a fortune. And so the lie is told. KiWi Power's "Money for nothing", the little BBC girlie trills, "could save millions".
This, of course, is the EU-loving BBC that Booker reported on Sunday
as having taken £20 million from the EU – something we might have mentioned on this blog
. Interestingly, although this has now been carried by Booker's newspaper, not a single other media source has used the story, much less mentioned the salient fact that the BBC lied to the Spectator
and the magazine fell for the lie.
Could it really be that such a juicy little tit-bit about the BBC completely escaped the attention of the rest of the media by accident? Or would it be just too much that the great Spectator
should be embarrassed by a lowly blogger?
Come to think of it, was it that same lowly blogger that broke the STOR story
? And was that same story then ignored by the bulk of the media, including – currently – the BBC?
Thus do they all lie. We are fed their droppings, and we are supposed to like it, to be grateful to them. But they are a disgrace to the very notion of a free, independent media.
Monday 10 March 2014
Two episodes recently have highlighted the malign role of the European Union, the flooding of the Somerset Levels, and the meddling in the Ukraine. In neither instance, however, has the legacy media been able to handle the EU involvement, or explain its importance.
Yet, in the Sunday Express yesterday, we get a trivial little story, complete with an editorial, headed "Garden meddling EU must finally be cut down to size".
And that is the measure of our media. When the great debate erupted over corporate tax avoidance, the media was silent on the role of the EU and the "free movement of capital and payments" provisions of the treaties. Over the horsemeat scandal, it was similarly silent about the failure of EU regulation, which created the conditions for the wholesale fraud. Likewise, we saw next to no criticism of the EU in the silicone breast implants scandal, despite the egregious failure of the CE system.
The only way, it seems, that the media can deal with the EU is in terms that it can understand, To do so, it reduces the complexity of the EU into something it can cope with, turning it into a "red-tape" machine, and then spends its time chasing after "bent banana" stories and the like.
This type of story the hacks can deal with at a comic-book level, keeping them within their comfort zone. But, when it comes to looking at the EU as a serious force, engaged in serious policy issues, the hacks simply cannot cope. This does not fit their narrative. The EU is allowed to be a "threat" to our gardens, but not to world peace.
Interestingly, the issue at hand we dealt with in September last
when the Daily Mail
made a hash of the story. Far from being and "EU red tape" story, these rules actually originate with the OECD. We saw the same dynamic with the jam story. When the media pins the blame on the EU, any other agency is invisible.
The system of global governance, of course, is so way beyond the comprehension of the average hack that they are not even close to being able to report the details. It is simply beyond their capability. Whole areas of policy are closed off, beyond the scope of media reportage.
And this is where, increasingly, we are going to have to fall back on our own resources. The legacy media is no longer part of the game. More part of the entertainment industry, its sates itself on a diet of trivia and superficiality. If we want detail and intelligent reporting, we will have to provide it ourselves.
Fortunately for the media, enough people are sufficiently happy with what they get. Their businesses are mostly safe. But we should no longer confuse them with news providers or analysts. We are on our own.
Sunday 9 March 2014
Picking up on the "20-year plan" for the Somerset Levels, Booker devotes his lead story to Owen Paterson's attempts to avert future disasters - despite EU directives and intervention by "eco" campaigners.
It's over nine weeks since we first became aware of those abnormal floods in Somerset and then the Thames, although it seems much longer. And during that period, two quite different dramas have been unfolding.
At the centre of one of these dramas has been the drive to uncover just why these disasters took place, and what should be done to prevent them happening again. The other, round the edges, has been a concerted campaign to fog the real issues, and to divert attention from what made the disasters inevitable.
The shocking truth, that we have been reporting, Booker in his column, and here on this blog, is that those unprecedented floods were not just a freak of nature, brought on by what turned out to be only England’s 16th wettest winter in 250 years.
They were deliberately brought about by a fundamental shift in flood management policy, shaped by EU directives and enforced by the Environment Agency, which in certain areas of the country, notably the Levels, put the interests of wildlife and "biodiversity" above those of people and property.
Fortunately, one of the who has grasped this is Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. After private meetings with local experts, arranged By Booker, he returned to London with a clear idea of what needed to be done.
Crucially, Paterson experts are calling for the management of the Levels to be handed over to a locally-based "Somerset rivers authority", taking over from the Environment Agency, and the Internal Drainage Boards, which previously kept the Levels pumped and drained for generations.
There should be a new sluice at the mouth of the River Parrett, to prevent silt being pushed back into it by the second highest tidal range in the world. And within six weeks the relevant local organisations should present him with an agreed plan to ensure that this winter's disaster is not repeated.
But, so sooner had these plans been published, a rival lobby has been desperately trying to divert attention from them. "Environmentalists" have been battling to preserve their dream by hiding everything which made disaster inevitable.
Their "useful idiots", such as the BBC and the journalist George Monbiot, have repeatedly tried to blame the disaster on "climate change", and on greedy farmers increasing the run-off of water from the hills by planting maize: two theories which no proper scientific evidence supports.
On Friday they were at it again, with two items on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme featuring Monbiot and the BBC's Roger Harrabin.
However, even before Paterson's announcement, Booker's local BBC staged an hour-long "all heat and no light" show, pitting a studio-full of flood victims against singularly unimpressive representatives of the Environment Agency and the RSPB – along with a barely articulate policewoman who was apparently "Gold Commander", in charge of co-ordinating that response to the local floods which the admirable residents found so pitifully inadequate.
Then as has been the case with so much of our media, there was no mention from the presenter, of course, of the EU’s directives on birds, habitat, water and flood management.
On Thursday Radio 4's World at One wheeled on some dim professor to rubbish the Paterson plan, who inevitably babbled about "climate change" and the "ineffectiveness" of dredging.
The only important point to emerge from this vapid cacophony is that Paterson, as a practical countryman and nature lover himself, has come up with precisely that change of policy needed to avert a another disaster which gets the champions of "biodiversity" so apoplectic.
The final irony, of course, is that, even more than the human residents of the Levels, the most obvious victims of this disaster have been all those barn owls, badgers, hedgehogs and water voles which were drowned, in the very floodwaters which the EU directives lobbied for by the "environmentalists" made inevitable.
By far the best way to maximise biodiversity on the levels is to ensure that they are not flooded.
Saturday 8 March 2014
Vladimir Chizhov, Russian ambassador to the EU, has been interviewed by Fariba Mavaddat for euronews, and uses the opportunity to hit out at Brussels for "systemic blunders" over its handling of the crisis in Ukraine.
I believe, Chizhov says, that the European Union has made a series of systemic blunders as far as Ukraine is concerned. First it tried to pull Ukraine into an association without actually taking into consideration the complex nature of Ukrainian society. The Ukrainian society, for different reasons, including historic, linguistic, even confessional, has never been a homogeneous society".
"But what was wrong with a harmless agreement? ", Mavaddat asks, getting a response from Chizhov that: "It was actually not so harmless". The Association Agreement, he said, "would have entailed Ukraine adopting a number of wide range of elements (the acquis communautaire) of the European Union into its own national legislation".
Further he said: "Introducing norms, regulations, policies and so on, that would have created a certain difficulty, I would say, to put it mildly, in the economic relations between Ukraine and Russia and, of course, other members of the customs union – an immediate neighbour of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan too".
Spelling it out, Chizov then says, "So, those would have been the implications. Our economies were part of a single economy for decades and still they are closely-linked. An association with the EU would have gone far beyond just free trade. Free trade is okay, but it would have brought Ukraine well into … the circle of inference [sic] of the European Union".
The interesting thing about this is that it is no more or less than we have been saying all along.
This may or may not be the truth – the ambassador almost certainly has his own (or his country's) agenda. But, in confirming our analysis, it tells us that the effect of the Association Agreement and the EU "provocation" is far more important than most commentators have allowed.
In fact, it would be not untoward to suggest that most of the pundits have got it wrong. The thing is though, it should not have been that hard to work out. Poking the Bear with a stick and there's going to be a reaction. Simples really.
Now, with the EU huffing and puffing about sanctions, even the Guardian
admits that the effect on Putin is likely to be negligible. And that was very predictable as well. But the propensity of the politicians, if not the media, to get it wrong seems to be infinite.
Friday 7 March 2014
It is no coincidence that, the day after Owen Paterson received the 20-year strategic plan for the Somerset levels, we get a major blast from the BBC on the Today programme, seeking to blame "careless farming" for making the floods worse "in Somerset and elsewhere".
In between blaming climate change and just about anything they can think of, except their own actions, the greens have been spraying disinformation into the ether to distract from the real causes, and to protect their funding streams. And, as always, the BBC and sock-puppet Roger Harrabin are willing recruits to the cause.
And it comes as no surprise that Monbiot's dire propaganda is re-cycled, together with some wholly irrelevant work from Exeter University on water retention in catchment areas, which just happened to be published yesterday, ready for Mr Harrabin's piece.
Unsurprisingly though - as so often proves to be the case - the work on which Roger Harrabin relies is not exactly unequivocal. Essentially, it was focused on monitoring plant species in bogs on Exmoor, after a limited programme of gully blocking to increase wetness of the area.
Conclusions were confined to suggesting that the programme could "provide ecosystem stability", which was "potentially attributed" to "increased water retention of peat, increasing the hydrological stability of the blanket bog ecosystem, reducing the severity of flood and drought events and increasing favourable conditions for hydrophtic bog species".
Upon this slender basis is Professor Blazier, running the project of behalf of the university, allowed to make completely unsupported claims about the Somerset levels.
The entry of Exeter University into the fray is actually quite significant. The institution is a temple of Europhilia and has siphoned off over €44 million in EU funding, between 2007-12, filling its boots with a staggering €18.5 million in 2012 alone - much of it on climate change and related activities.
Now the Green/EU agenda is under threat, with people being given the choice by Owen Paterson between dry homes and wet lands, the collective is moving onto the offensive. Every available medium is being harnessed to pour out the propaganda, all to confuse the issues and ensure that the whole truth does not emerge.
As with the Ukraine, therefore, the one thing you will not get from the state broadcaster is any indication of the role of the European Union. In particular, we are not allowed to know how it contributed to the flooding the Somerset Levels, or how it financed its proxies, the RSPB and the WWF, each of them living high on the hog, taking respectively €14 and €54 million from the EU trough.
Gradually, though, we are assembling the story in a report of our own, drawn from blogposts here, plus additional material. The story of the uplands mythology, much favoured by Monbiot and now Harrabin, is dealt-with in Appendix 3, with a reference to the paper, neither want you to see in full, as it does not support their thesis.
This dishonesty in the way "science" is harnessed for propaganda purposes is par for the course, not least hiding research carried out at public expense behind a paywall. And, with the BBC on-side, the greens have a head start. In the final analysis, though, people really do prefer dry homes to wet lands. All we have to do is tell them they have a choice.
Friday 7 March 2014
Vince Cable, the Lib-Dem business secretary, has intervened in David Cameron's game, branding the Conservatives "seriously irresponsible" for promising a 2017 referendum.
Ignoring the growing clamour of voices that says a 2017 plebiscite is impossible, Cable, is talking to the The Independent, whence he chooses to make an issue over the "blight" on foreign investment in Britain. He thus warns of the "chilling effect" of the in/out referendum promise, saying it is delaying the economic recovery and putting 3.5 million jobs at risk.
He claims businessmen are now warning him on a daily basis that they would invest elsewhere to ensure they retained access to the EU's single market. "They say 'we are here because of Europe; we are not just here because of Britain'", he asserts.
Asked to name names, Cable comes up with the usual suspects, car-makers Vauxhall, BMW Mini, Ford and Nissan, adding that the same concerns were being expressed in the aerospace industry and City. British, Japanese, American, Indian and German firms had all voiced fears, he says.
This tedious little game, though, rest on three suppositions. Firstly, one has to assume that there will be that referendum, which Cable should know is impossible. Then, secondly, he must assume that the "outers" would win, which is by no means a foregone conclusion.
Thirdly, and crucially, Cable must assume that the end result would be that the UK outside the EU would no longer had access to the EU's Internal Market. Necessarily, we would be excluded from the trading arrangements that we currently enjoy. Nothing like the "Norway option" would be on offer.
On the other hand, the EU has been willing to agree a deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA) with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, which encompasses full participation in the Internal Market, without there being any immediate question of EU membership.
It does seem, therefore, beyond the realm of probability that the UK would not be able to negotiate something similar on its departure from the EU. On that basis, the most likely outcome of a "Brexit" is that trading arrangements continue unchecked.
By now, in what should be a mature debate, we should be past the low-grade FUD that Cable has on offer. We really should be able to address the arguments for staying in and departing from the EU on a more adult level, without having to put up with the tedious repetitions that Cable is resuscitating.
Sometime, one wonders whether the game is about boring us all to death, with the same mindless scare stories, forcing us into the position of ending the debate rather than suffer the tedium of yet another dire warning about losing our ability to trade with the rest of the EU.
The trouble is that Mr Cameron and his merry men are not much better, which means we have to suffer this endless round of tedium, instead of addressing the real issues attendant on our membership of the EU.
But then, one might surmise that if the pro-EU faction cannot come up with some more interesting and imaginative arguments for remaining in the EU, that itself tells its own story. A construct which relies on endless repetition of the same tedious FUD can't have very much to offer.
Thursday 6 March 2014
As the Ukraine crisis develops, those readers who feel they need to remind themselves of how and why it started can always refer to a handy guide in The Guardian.
There, one finds that "latest developments are the result of a four-month-long deadlock between Ukrainian demonstrators and Viktor Yanukovych's government". We are then told that, "Protests erupted on 21 November 2013 when then-president Yanukovich backtracked on promises made to sign a trade deal with the EU, allegedly at Moscow's behest".
If that is the level of information being pumped out by the BBC's favourite newspaper, and it at all represents the general understanding of the situation, then it is hardly surprising that the media and the politicians are getting it so wrong.
The EU's longstanding interference in Ukraine, though, represents only the tip of the iceberg as far as its meddling goes. As well as Georgia, we also see an interesting article from Spiegel about EU interference in Moldova, where it is very clear that the same game is afoot.
Go back a little, to December 2011, and you can see the game the EU was playing with its Association Agreement. The aim was, it said, "to accelerate the deepening of political and economic relations between Ukraine and the EU, as well as Ukraine's gradual integration in the EU Internal Market including by setting up a deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA)".
The Agreement was a "concrete way to exploit the dynamics in EU-Ukraine relations, focusing on support to core reforms, on economic recovery and growth, governance and sector co-operation". It was also seen as "a reform agenda for Ukraine, around which all Ukraine's partners can align themselves and focus their assistance".
Thus the EU saw itself as the spearhead around which western penetration could be organised, including US aid.
But this was always much more than a series of isolated association agreements with individual countries. It was very much part of a concerted programme to detach Russia from its allies, under a programme called the "Eastern Partnership policy", encompassing Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Launched in 2009, the Partnership is regarded as a "key objective of EU foreign policy" and, according to Barroso, speaking in Baku State University in Azerbaijan in January 2011, the the framework focused on four specific areas.
The first was "deepening bilateral relations through new, bilateral Association agreements". These agreements were meant to bring cooperation "to a higher level", by intensifying our joint work in a broad range of areas, including such areas as energy, environment and education.
Second, there was the prospect of strengthening trade and investment by establishing deep and comprehensive free trade areas. This was regarded as "very ambitious" as it implies the gradual opening of the EU's Internal Market to the partners.
Third, "promoting mobility of citizens and visa liberalisation" was a long-term goal. It was thought to be an important objective of the Eastern Partnership, " of great value", as greater mobility would increase direct contacts among people.
The fourth and final focus of the Eastern Partnership is then to "strengthen energy security through cooperation to ensure long-term stable and secure energy supply and transit".
No one with the slightest understanding of the relationships between Russia and its near-neighbours could be under the slightest illusion as to the implications of this partnership initiative, and the eventual intentions of the EU.
But, is all the likes of the Guardian can see – or is prepared to admit – is a "trade agreement", then the current response of Russia to a decade or more of provocation will, perforce, we seen in a completely different light.
One can only wonder though whether disguising this provocation is being done deliberately, or is simply a consequence of the more usual incompetence displayed by the fourth estate.