Compare and contrast

Yesterday the Swiss people had the opportunity of voting on three national referendum questions, something they do four times a year, (along with some cantonal referendums – of the latter more later): they backed a new law allowing phone and email tapping; they rejected a proposal to increase retirement benefits by 10%; and they also rejected unspecified cuts in the use of natural resources such as lumber and water.

Where cantonal referendums were concerned, in the canton of Neuchâtel, the people voted against an initiative that would have made it the first Swiss canton to allow foreigners to stand in cantonal elections. Fifty-four percent of voters rejected the plan, launched by a citizens’ committee last month. Several cantons do allow foreign nationals to stand for public office at communal level, but none at cantonal level. The French-speaking canton in Western Switzerland is already a pioneer when it comes to civic rights for foreigners. Foreign nationals have been allowed to vote in communal elections for over 150 years, and in 2000 they were granted the right to vote at cantonal level.In a 2007 referendum the public granted foreigners the right to stand for office in communal elections, but not at cantonal level.

Also of note is the result of a referendum in the canton of Ticino, where a measure making it more difficult for foreign workers to be employed won 58 percent of the vote.  Brussels has immediately ‘jumped on this, saying that  the vote would further complicate thorny negotiations over a national vote in early 2014 in which Switzerland voted for similar curbs, despite them violating the EU’s free movement rules. Margaritis Schinas, spokesman for commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, said today, at a daily briefing: Yesterday’s vote will not make the already difficult talks any easier.

Interesting also are three graphs encapsulated in this article in Swissinfo which shows the history of referendums since 1848. By ‘hovering’ the mouse over each bar one can see the referendum question and whether it was accepted or rejected.

I headed this article ‘compare and contrast’ – and, dear reader, do just that with the preceding link; and then wonder at the varied and many topics the people of Switzerland get to decide, whereas in the UK the government of the day decides, depending on its political ideology at that time, with the people have no means of querying any decision that is made on their behalf.

Democracy = ‘demos’: people; and ‘kratos’: power. We, the people, ain’t got any power, be that at national, local, or communal level; even though our politicians, both national and local, repeatedly maintain we have because we can vote them out of office.

Wow, the ability to vote out of office one ‘brain-dead monkey’ and ‘repetitive parrot’, wearing say a blue rosette; and replacing him/her with another of similar questionable ability wearing a red, yellow, or purple rosette, is power?

You gotta be joking!

 

Seaham’s Annual Car Show

Every year Seaham holds what is termed a ‘vintage car’ show which includes some vehicles whose vintage is, to be polite, not ‘so vintage’

This year was no exception with some vehicles showing engines off which one could eat one’s dinner, every part of which was polished chrome. Even on show was a Hillman Hunter (If anyone remembers them) in superb condition, however I digress.

Walking round I thought I had found the car of the show: a Ford Zephyr. Originally bought new in August 1962, that owner had suffered a driving ban and promptly ‘garaged’ the car. It was then bought by someone with a view to renovating it – but never did,  even though he had spent £s obtaining some of the parts required. Purchased by the current owner as a ‘seized-up’ hulk in 2012, he spent 18 months getting the vehicle roadworthy to the point the only ‘new’ item on the car were the carpets.

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Bench front seat, steering column change – while she cuddled up and her hands were……..; but I digress again……………..

Then I saw this reasonably modern Mini and thought to myself what has he got under his bonnet  but yet again I digress…………….

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Then my breath was taken away when I saw this:

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A Corvette; and looking inside:

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one had to wonder whether the seats had been molded to the car or had the car been moulded round the seats – even the seat belts were red. Seeing this I wondered why I drooled over a red Austin Healy 3000 I once owned; and sold when I hitched up with a woman who had a two year old daughter as there was no room for the daughter – how stupid was I……….

It is a fact that when seeing cars such as those illustrated, some of which we may have owned at one time or another, we can but wonder just why did we get rid of them?

Cherchez la femme?

 

 

What happens next?

An intriguing situation has arisen in Switzerland on the question involving the ‘free movement of people –  one of the EU’s ‘red lines’.

We read that the Lower House has ‘capitulated‘ in this regard encapsulating a ‘row’ in that legislature.

The Swiss media appear to be not ‘happy bunnies’, with Tages Anzeiger stating the Swiss government has ‘capitulated’ and the lower house decision “must not be the last word” on the matter; while in Berner Zeitung the claim is made that the referendum was “deliberately ignored” and what parliament has decided “has nothing to do with the constitutional mandate”.

It is worth noting that the Swiss Constitution states the government must (Article 33 (2): take cognizance of petitions – which presumably means they must also take note of ‘initiatives’; and that Article 137 states: that political parties in Switzerland contribute to the forming of opinion and will of the People – which then begs the question if political parties contribute to the forming of opinion and will of the people then it must be a ‘given’ that they can have no ‘override’ where the will of the people is concerned – and, if they do, what price direct democracy? Are certain Swiss political parties attempting to ‘override’ the Swiss Constitution?

Either the people, under a system of direct democracy are sovereign, or they are not – and if they are not, then it cannot be a system of direct democracy. If any government, operating under a system of direct democracy, instead of instigating a policy and then sitting back waiting for opposition, should propose a course of action and invite the people to instigate a referendum on the question within a given timescale? In so doing they can then provide a fair and unbiased statement for their intensions ( see: http://scribblingsfromseaham.com/thats-the-way-to-do-it/).

It would appear the vote was ‘carried’ by those of the left and centre-left who, it is known are pro-EU membership. I have emailed my Swiss SVP political contact, encapsulating the question of what they, as a party, intend to do about this; also querying whether a constitutional crisis is looming  – and when said response is received, I will publish same.

Yet more ‘domicide’………

An article in the Financial Times by Martin Wolf about a hard brexit (viz-a-viz Theresa May)  is but another example of ‘domicide’ (see preceding article).

For example yet again we are led to believe that all EU law is originated by  the EU when patently, with a little research, this statement can easily be shown to be false.

People are reliant on all media to inform them of ‘news’ that may have an impact on their lives and consequently, especially  when producing opinion pieces the media in all forms, have a duty to ensure that the information they produce is factually correct. Not withstanding that basic requirement, they also have a duty to check statements by politicians to ensure that those statements are correct, factually, rather than just reproducing them verbatim.

In this particular case all one can say is that, overlooking this journalist’s canine attributes, he most definitely has a big mouth.

Afterthought: Martin Wolf is the Chief Economics Commentator for the Financial Times – one can only suggest he goes back to school, preferably to the kindergarten class.

Only my opinion but any politician, or journalist. stating or publishing a provable ‘untruth’ should automatically be in receipt of a P45. But then, under representative democracy, we cannot do owt about that, can we?

Death by Government

The title of this post is taken from a book written by an American political scientist named R.K. Rummel who coined various phrases such as ‘democide’ and politicide’. democide is defined as:  the murder of any person or people by their government; and politicide as: deliberate physical destruction of a group whose members share the main characteristic of belonging to a political movement; or: an action which irreparably damages a person’s own political career; or finally: a systematic attempt to cause the annihilation of an independent political and social entity.

In respect of politicians taking decisions that irreparably damage their own political careers I make no further comment as examples are legion: think Profumo and Vaz…….?

Where democracy is concerned, two quotes by Rummel are worth mentioning:

Concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth;

and:

The more power a government has the more it can act arbitrarily according to the whims and desires of the elite, and the more it will make war on others and murder its foreign and domestic subjects. The more constrained the power of governments, the more power is diffused, checked, and balanced, the less it will aggress on others and commit democide.

Let us first consider ‘democide’: The eighteenth-century English jurist William Blackstone (citing Edward Coke), in his Commentaries on the Laws of England set out the common law definition of murder, which by this definition, occurs when a person, of sound memory and discretion, unlawfully kills any reasonable creature in being and under the king’s peace, with malice aforethought, either express or implied.

Murder can be defined as the deprivation of an individual’s ability to continue his/her life and liberty; so it can be argued that political decisions to change/deprive an individuals right to the continuation of the enjoyment and continuation of his/her society and traditions – without their agreement – is murder. As such did not the political decision by subsequent governments to accept unconstrained free movement of people, coupled  with the ‘throwing open of our borders’ by the Blair government, constitute the murder of British society as we knew that? Did not the ability of government to act arbitrarily according to the whim and desires of the political elite, again without recourse to public opinion, constitute the murder of this country’s society and way of life?

Consider ‘politicide’:  have not successive governments (aided and abetted by the media) attempted (and succeeded) in the destruction of a political and social entity by  completely ignoring the views expressed on blogs and in FlexCit? Have not successive governments committed ‘politicide’ by the decisions they have taken which have weakened their own auhority, if as they would have us belief they are the font of all knowledge and the only ones able to direct our nation; is it necessary to produce a list of their mistakes?

Returning to the second quote; have not successive governments made war on others whilst murdering its own people by failing to grant the people, who will actually do the fighting, the right to agree to war on another country?  Why is the ability to decide to go to war in the hands of just 650 when logic dictates that those related to those who may lose their life far exceeds that of the 650?

Where democracy per se is concerned, just what purpose do our political elite serve? Why do we pay thousands to keep them on the public payroll? They are supposed to represent their electortes, but it is all too obvious the only ones they wish to represent are themselves and the political party to which they belong.

The burning question ‘du jour’ must be Brexit, yet one political party’s sole interest ‘du jour’ is who will be their next political dictator; while another political party is tearing itself asunder on  the Brexit question, encapsulated in which are their political elite who have  no knowledge of what is involved   – and our ‘independent and free’ media happily ‘play along’ with these charades to the supposed democratic process (where Ukip and the LibDems ‘fit in, heaven only knows as logic dictates it is questionable if even they do).  Does that not all confirm Rummel’s definition of ‘democide’, because where is the voice of the people- and only the people? Does not the foregoing have an effect on how people can continue to live their lives and decide their future, not only of themselves but also their nation? Does not the ability of a section of society to decide how the remainder should live constitute ‘democide’?

I make no apology for – to use a ‘Cameron’ phrase – ‘banging on’ about the question of and what constitutes democracy, but it is a subject of great importance. Bearing in mind democracy, translated from the original Greek, means people power, just where under representative democracy is the power of the people to change the course of government prior to the next general election?

I now turn to a related subject; namely the meeting on October 1st, to which I have been invited, at which progression of The Harrogate Agenda (THA) is to be discussed by a select few who have expressed an interest in same. One can only hope that ‘brains have been engaged’ by those attending; otherwise said meeting will be a waste of everyone’s time. I  have no  intention of disclosing my own views of how this can be achieved; but one thing I will promise is that a full and frank disclosure of that meeting will follow in due course.

‘Stay tuned’, do please, as all the questions raised by ‘domicide’ and ‘politicide’ are relevant to how THA is progressed.

That’s the way to do it………

……as Mr. Punch used to say.

Unknown to a lot of people the Swiss have the third of four referendums to be held this year, on 25th September; along with elections which are also taking place in many cantons and communes across the country.

The referendums being held contain:

A proposal to reduce Switzerland’s carbon footprint by promoting a sustainable economy, a proposal which has seen a substantial drop in support ahead of a nationwide vote. Pollsters expect the initiative to fail at the ballot box;

Another decision involves what is being termed: ‘state snooping’. The political left think so, but parliament and the government say the agency needs more powers to prevent terrorism and the trade in arms. The legal amendment would give the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) the right not only to tap phone lines but also to survey e-mails, access computer systems abroad and bug private apartments. Voters have the final say;

The Swiss will also be voting on a people’s initiative calling for an increase in payments from the state retirement fund, but questions are being asked about whether the system can support an additional CHF4 billion ($4 billion) annually. The initiative calls for a 10% increase in state old-age pension benefits provided to all retirees through the so-called ‘first pillar’ in a three-pillar retirement system. This increase is foreseen to counteract the decrease in occupational pension payments from the second pillar, which has partially resulted from lower or even negative interest paid on occupational pension fund investments. The Swiss Constitution stipulates that a usual standard of living must be guaranteed to retirees through pension payments from the first pillar (social insurance) and the second pillar (occupational pensions) – again voters have the final say

The important point to note in this referendum is that on all three matters it is the Swiss people who will decide, whereas in the United Kingdom such decisions are arbitrarily made by our politicians.

However that is not the point of this article. On the last evening of our visit to Switzerland Helen and I were invited to an evening of ‘wine and nibbles’ by our hosts and invariably discussion turned to the reason for our visit. Explaining that it was part holiday and part ‘business’, in that we had met some SVP politicians as we were both advocates of Direct Democracy, the questions on the latter ranged far and wide. I mentioned the referendums on 25th of this month and that it was my belief that the government produced a ‘information sheet’ setting out the pros and cons of each question, at which point in our conversation the ballot paper was produced. Along with the latter was an A5 booklet, of approximately 40/45 pages, setting out just that; and which also contained statements from each political party advocating their position on each subject, stating whether they were for or against each. Not being able to read German (let alone speak it) I asked my host whether the government’s view was ‘fair’ in content and he replied that not only was it ‘fair’ but that it was, more importantly, factual; as were the statements by the political parties.

Contrast that with the ‘misinformation’ that we, the electorate, were presented by both ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ in the referendum on June 23rd, along with those of our government and opposition.

One can only believe that, where referendums and democracy are concerned, the Swiss method is indeed democracy in action, while that of the United Kingdom most definitely is not.

You, dear reader, decide?

 

Switzerland (2)

First the meeting with the SVP politicians on Thursday went well despite the language problems (even with a translator present) and I will report further on this on my return to the UK.

In the meantime more on the holiday aspect of the trip. Yesterday Helen and I took a four and a half hour boat trip to Interlaken West on the Thunersee (Lake Thun) on the Berner Oberland and enjoyed a superb lunch – accompanied with the obligatory glass or two of wine.

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The boats that do this trip stop at various points on both sides of the lake for those wishing to get on or off. One of the boats that do this trip is an old, presumably converted, paddle boat:

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As might be expected the views from the water are stunning along with the architecture, an example of which is Schloss Schadau located in Thun on the edge of the lake:imageWhen we arrived back in Thun, on disembarking we saw this coach (complete with folding canvas sunroof – anyone remember them?) waiting for a group who had been on the boat:

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Today we visited Schloss Schadau which is situated in a most beautiful English style park and contains many floral beds like this:

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A popular sport in Switzerland would appear to be hang- gliding/para- gliding and when conditions are conducive we have seen about six such launching themselves off the top of this nearby mountain (Niesin) of an evening, which is  2,362 metres in height – there is a cable car, needless to say:

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A few other immediate observations about this beautiful country: as we know it is clean, rubbish bins are ‘in abundance’ which include ashtrays and those smoking will carry their cigarette ends to the next bin rather than just toss them in the road or on the pavement; we have not seen one obese child ( they either walk or cycle to school); and graffiti is virtually non- existent (and what there is seems to get cleaned off within 24/28 hours). The other notable facts are that we have only seen three Muslims (heads covered but no facial covering; and two of dark- skinned descent (although to be fair we have not visited the likes of Basle, Geneva, etc. Every one is polite and this weekend it is obvious that leisure time is a family event.

Enough for now – more to follow before we leave Tuesday at ‘crack of sparrow’.

 

Switzerland


The best laid plans of mice and men – I appear to have left the cable to download photos from camera to laptop at home; coupled with the Wifi connection is a tad poor to say the least.

Consequently I have had to use the camera on my iPhone and post  the article on same ( which is a pain!).

However this is where we are staying:

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This is a view of lake Thun with Thun on the far shore and Spietz in the foreground:

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Finally one of the mountains nearby at sunset yesterday evening:

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An article or two will follow in due course……

Switzerland Hiatus

SfS is leaving fairly early tomorrow morning for 7 days in Switzerland where on Thursday evening he is attending a meeting at which several politicians, who have already agreed to speak with him, will be present. Needless to say a detailed report will be issued in due course, probably on my return to the UK. I shall attempt, however, to publish a short resumé the following day.

The remainder of the trip will be spent traveling around the country sightseeing and visiting ‘one or two’ restaurants. Hopefully, if the technology works and it will not bore readers, some pictures will appear.

 

 

Should not the piper call the tune?

It is noted that a suggestion has been made to alter the method by which our politicians are paid and one which encapsulates an increase in the amount, the expenditure of which will not be subjected to public scrutiny.

We are told that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) …..was given the remit and powers to introduce independent regulation of MPs’ business costs and expenses and, subsequently, pay and pensions…. and that …. in everything we do, we focus on our main duty: to serve the interests of the public.

The one question I would pose to our politicians and IPSA is this:  in an era where you all appear concerned with ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice,’ what is your ‘fair share’ and where is the ‘social justice’ in taking a percentage of that for which someone else has worked, without their agreement? To which I would add this: cannot the interest of the public only be served when they have a say in that which affects them?

If our politicians are providing services to the people of this country, is it not logical for  those paying for said services to be able to decide whether said services are value for money – and if said services are not so considered, to withhold said payment?

Let us consider what is probably the most basic question about taxation:

We all complain about the levels of taxation; and are promptly labelled ‘greedy’ by those of socialist leanings (and politicians in general) , yet does not logic also dictate that it is ‘greedy’ to forcibly take someone else’s money, remembering that those ‘robbed’ have no say over the expenditure of that robbery, especially when imprisonment results if they refuse? Is it not a fact that despite many arguments about income distribution, income is not distributed, but is earned?

Let us consider what is probably the most basic question about immigration:

If you believe that those coming to this country should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards as that of the indigenous population then about 50 years ago you would have been classed as a radical, about 25 years ago you would have been classed as a liberal, but nowadays you are classed as a racist (Enoch Powell excepted as was he not so immediately labeled – and also a prophet in this regard?).

Let us consider what is probably the most basic question about the NHS:

Why is it that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and medication – and a government bureaucracy to administer it.

Let us consider what is probably the most basic question about Brexit:

There is no ‘cut and dried’ solutions – there are only trade-offs if we wish Brexit to be Brexit.

Consider also:

Is it not true that were we to insist in a belief of personal responsibility it would negate that special role created by our politicians of being the rescuers of those treated unfairly by ‘society’ – a society that they, the politicians, have created without our agreement?

I firmly believe that the electorate – until they are ‘re-educated’ – will never  understand politics or politicians until they realise that politicians are not attempting to solve our problems, they are just solving their most immediate problem of getting elected and re-elected – which are but problems number one and number two. What is problem number three for them is anyone’s guess.

Some of the biggest cases of mistaken identity evident today are among  our politicians who appear to have trouble remembering that they are not God.

Of course the answer to all the aforementioned ‘ills’ we suffer is for the adoption of the idea of The Harrogate Agenda; and I will not answer the most obvious question of where that has been for the last four years – I leave that for those commenting.

One last thought: Is not the most basic question not what is best, but who shall decide what is best; especially when those deciding are those that pay for it?