In the words of Humpty Dumpty……

Has it been noticed that on assuming office national leaders invariably state their people matter and that they are but servants of the people; they state the need for change, in some instances having happily served under policies mandated by their predecessor, but then maintain those policies were wrong.

Cast your minds back, starting with

Tony Blair, who said:

…….And it will be a government that seeks to restore trust in politics in this country. That cleans it up, that decentralizes it, that gives people hope once again that politics is and always should be about the service of the public……

(that went well, did it not?)

Next, Gordon Brown, who said:

…….As Prime Minister I will continue to listen and learn from the British people. I’ve heard the need for change………change to build trust in government, change to protect and extend the British way of life. And this need for change cannot be met by the old politics………….

(that went well, too, did it not?)

Next David Cameron, who said:

…….One of the tasks that we clearly have is to rebuild trust in our political system. Yes that’s about cleaning up expenses, yes that is about reforming parliament, and yes it is about making sure people are in control – and that the politicians are always their servant and never their masters……….

(that went well also, did it not?)

Next, Theresa May, who said:

…The government I lead will be driven, not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives….When we take the big calls we will think not of the powerful, but you. When we pass new laws we will listen not to the mighty, but to you…….

(will that go well? We shall see). Unfortunately the portents in respect of Brexit, to date, would leave one to question her knowledge of the subject matter).

If we look at the foregoing four statements, not once have the people of this nation had the opportunity to question, on a day-to-day basis, the policy decisions of their government. Governments may say they will listen, they may say they are but servants of the people, but have yet to demonstrate that they are unconditionally.

Just why is it that time and time again we hear the words of good intent from our politicians; and time and time again when they fail to deliver we still vote them back into power?

The latest example of ‘good intent’ has come from Donald Trump who,in his inauguration speech, said:

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another – but transferring it from Washington DC and giving it back to you the people. For too long a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. While they have celebrated there has been little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your celebration. And this – the United States of America – is your country. What truly matters is not what party controls our government but that this government is controlled by the people. Today, January 20 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

For anyone who believes in democracy per se then his words are a beacon of hope to the world – and if Donald Trump lives up to his words regarding democracy per se (which may be doubtful as he is now a politician), then he will be the first to have so done since the mid-19th century.

  Humpty Dumpty said:

When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.

 

A missive to members of the EEUSC (2)

Returning to a previous article in respect of the recent report by the Exiting the European Union Select Committee and the fact that, bar one MP who courteously dealt with the query raised, the replies received have all contained the mantra that they are unable to help me unless I am a constituent of theirs. I find myself unable to let matters rest, consequently have forwarded yet another email to those MPs attempting to hide behind their self-imposed rule. The MPs in question are: Peter Grant, Patrick McFadden, Hilary Benn, Andrea Jenkyns, Maria Caufield, Alistair Burt, Jeremy Lefroy, Michael Gove and Emma Reynolds.

Further to my email to all members of the Exit the European Union Select Committee (EEUSC), I thank you for your response advising me that if I am not your constituent you are then unable to deal with any request and/or communication from me.

While it is acknowledged that, in theory, a select committee is answerable to the House of Commons, said committee has made public a report to the House, a report to which you are all, de facto, signatories. You are, therefore, by making this report public, also addressing it to the public for their perusal and, subsequently, any questions they may have on the contents therein. As a result I fail to see the relevance of your reply, or the content contained therein.

For those unfamiliar with the word, anodyne means: intended to avoid causing offence or disagreement, especially by not expressing strong feelings or opinions

Andrew Kennon, Clerk of Committees in the House of Commons, in delivering the first Open Lecture on 9 March 2012 on the subject of Select Committees, is on record stating that it was the work of Select Committees to hold the Government to account. Perhaps you can explain how any government of the day can be held to account when one of its members considers a report issued by the EEUSC: ‘anodyne’?

Reverting to the point that Select Committees are supposed to hold the government of the day to account, the fact that members of a select committee (MPs) are elected by other MPs; and then their findings are ‘watered down’ for what ever reason, one has to ask just what use are those findings? If said findings are then made public but the public, having questioned the contents, are denied a response – just how is democracy per se thus served?

As you should be aware the word democracy is derived from the Greek: demokratia which in turn is derived from the combination of two words: demos: people; and kratos: power. If those elected by the people then ignore contact with them by the people, can one not argue that we then have a situation which can best be described as democratised dictatorship – especially when those elected hide behind a ruling of their own making? Wherefore democracy; and likewise wherefore people power? Surely logic dictates that: (a) without day-to-day interaction twixt those elected to power and those that elect those to exercise the power to which they were elected: and, (b) if those elected then ignore those that elected them (for whatever reason), one can but repeat the question: is the result not a form of democratised dictatorship?

I ask a question of you: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? The electorate, on a day-to-day basis, cannot ‘control’ MPs, unless in their benevolence said MPs grant the electorate a referendum; and if the electorate cannot and the offices of parliament do not – and in this instance obviously do not out of choice – can one not justifiably ask yet again: wherefore democracy? When a situation arises in which the watchers are but part of the watched, to paraphrase Hamlet: is there not something rotten with democracy in the state of the UK?

As you will each have surmised from my email address I am not a constituent of any member of the EEUSC; and in conclusion two points must be made:

(a) by not allowing any member of the electorate, other than a constituent, to question your findings, you are in effect disenfranchising the majority of the electorate in this nation, and;

(b) continuance of your failure to enter into debate with a member of the electorate can only mean you give not a fig for democracy, nor for a member of the electorate.

Regards,

David Phipps

 

The Lady has spoken – ‘may’ she be right

So the long-heralded speech by our Prime Minister on Brexit has taken place – and we must make of it what we will.

For those advocating a move ‘sideways’ to EFTA/EEA there is disappointment – and for those wanting out of the Single Market and the Customs Union there can only be mixed feelings as she said that she does not want this nation to have an associate membership of the European Union, but it would appear she is willing to accept, if necessary, some form of associate membership of the Customs Union. A tad odd, no?

Theresa May mentions talks she has had with Juncker, Tusk (or is that  Tsk?) and Schulz, together with the leaders of the 27, all of who want a good relationship with the United Kingdom – that may be, but some of those leaders may not be there in a few months; so do the views of Schulz and others who will no longer be on the scene count for much?

There has been much condemnation and belittling of Mays approach from those pushing EFTA/EEA and those pushing for a total exit from the Single Market and the Customs Union. For some time we have heard much ‘sabre-rattling’ about the ‘sanctity’ of the ‘four freedoms’ from the heads of other EU states, together with similar from Juncker and Schulz,

However, what this speech by May has done has been to plant the ball over the net and deep into the EU’s court. Now we must wait and see whether they can return her service. We spectators at the EU/UK tennis match of the decade, if not the century, must sit, watch, wait and, in the meantime, be enthralled

The foregoing begs the question just why are we spectators in what amounts to a political game that affects not only the future of our nation, but also our individual lives? Should we not ‘storm the court’, halt play and inform the ‘star players’ that we are players in this game too – because in this political game where is the demos and kratos in what is supposed to be a process of democracy?

There will, no doubt, be many words about the content of May’s speech from the MSM and our not-so-great-and-not-so-good (aka the political class) – but then what the hell do they know, based on past performance? Not only them, but I would also appeal to other commentators as I, for one, am tired of the continual arguments based on a ‘what if’ scenario. I would suggest that all wait until there is something ‘concrete’ on which to comment; and would remind all such commentators of a saying attributed to Bob Monkhouse, namely; silence is golden – and is never misquoted.

Readers, this game is destined to be a long one and one can only suggest that supporters of each side keep their powder dry prior to igniting fireworks in celebration – or considering making an appointment with Dignitas.

Once again, just saying…………………….

 

 

 

 

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, for the umpteenth time; but when will someone listen?

Referring to the preceding article in which I posed a question to each member of the Exiting the European Union Select Committee, one member, to whom  I will extend my courtesy for having personally responded, has stated: I argued strenuously against this absurd suggestion of a transitional agreement which was slightly watered down as a result.  But because there is a majority of ‘remainers in recovery’ on the Committee the most the minority can hope to do is render its reports as anodyne as possible.

Anodyne: intended to avoid causing offence or disagreement, especially by not expressing strong feelings or opinions.

So, an extremely important select committee report which is supposed to hold the government of the day to account and which deals with a subject matter affecting the future of our nation, one which may not arise again for yonks, has been in effect ‘watered down’ so as to not cause offence by not expressing strong feelings or opinions?

Just what the hell is going on here? From the Parliament website we learn  that: Select Committees work in both Houses. They check and report on areas ranging from the work of government departments to economic affairs. The results of these inquiries are public and many require a response from the government.

Did not Andrew Kennon, Clerk of Committees in the House of Commons, in delivering the first Open Lecture on 9 March 2012 on the subject of Select Committees say that it was the work of Select Committees to hold the Government to account?

If results of Select Committee inquiries are made public then are they not open to query by members of the electorate? So why did I receive so many standard responses to the effect that members of the EEUSC were unable to talk to me unless I was a constituent of theirs?

If a Select Committee’s main task is to hold the government of the day to account; and then their findings are ‘watered down’ for what ever reason, one has to ask just what use are those findings – and just how is democracy per se thus served?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes – because we sure as hell cannot; and if the electorate cannot and the offices of parliament do not – and in this instance obviously do not out of choice – can one not justifiably ask: wherefore democracy?

When a situation arises in which the watchers are but part of the watched, to paraphrase Hamlet: is there not something rotten in the state of the UK?

Just asking……….

A missive to members of the EEUSC

The following has been forwarded, by email, to every member of the Exiting the European Union Select Committee – not that I am that hopeful of receiving a response.

I read with interest the report, just published, from the Exiting the European Union Select Committee; of which each addressee is a member. This report has been made public and as such consequently is also addressed to every member of the electorate; regardless of whether any member of the electorate is a constituent of any member of this committee. As a result it is hoped that any member of the electorate choosing to write to this committee, as I am now doing, will receive a detailed reply addressing the points raised therein.

Much is made in this report of the need for a transitional agreement, on the basis it is improbable that a new arrangement for trading with the European Union will be agreed within the initial two year period mentioned in Article 50 – witness how long the trade agreement between the  EU and Canada took to come to fruition.

The committee would appear to have only mentioned a few of the problems which need addressing during negotiations to terminate our full membership of the European Union – and in so doing appear oblivious to other such matters. In this regard the accusation can be levied that the committee has failed to consider all the ramifications involved in enacting Brexit. To ‘unravel’ 40+ years of integration with the European Union cannot be achieved in a timescale of 2 years, consequently a transition period is not only of benefit to the United Kingdom, but one that is necessary.

It is of some concern to me and others who do have knowledge of ‘matters EU’ – something which appears to be lacking among our political class yet who are demanding their ‘say’ on a subject about which they seem to know nothing – that in answer to McReynolds and Singham, for example, not one of the committee seemed to be aware that a plan for exiting the EU does exist yet was not mentioned. Why not? The basis of this plan – which goes by the name of of ‘FlexCit (google: www.eureferendum.com/documents/Flexcit.pdf) – is for an immediate ‘sideways move’ to EFTA/EEA; which, where the need to ‘take control of our borders’ is concerned, can be accomplished by invoking Article 112 of the EEA agreement. Yet again there was no mention of this – why not? A sideways move to EFTA/EEA would mean little disruption to trading relations with the European Union while allowing time to negotiate that new ‘arrangement’. The committee may also wish to read the ‘Monographs’  (http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=80999) prepared by eureferendum.com as it would undoubtedly assist them in their deliberations.

As a taxpayer I, along with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of others, contribute to what some say is a vast expense bill for MP’s office staff – which presumably encapsulates research assistants. Presumably such are employed? If not why not? If such are employed then why is it MPs appear to remain in ignorance of FlexCit, leaving aside many other matters relating to the Brexit question?

I look forward to the courtesy of a response in due course.

Regards,

David Phipps

It is however worth making the point that whether or not a response is received will say a great deal about the state of democracy in this nation.

NB: Link to the Exiting the European Union Select Committee report is here

Update: As I write, pinging into my in-box are emails from the addressees informing me that if I am not a constituent they are unable to help me to go take a running jump.

Naturalisation

When a foreign national seeks citizenship/naturalisaton of their host nation, who should make that decision – those of the community in which the applicant lives; or, as in the United Kingdom, a bureaucratic, box-ticking government department?

Recently, in Switzerland, a case concerning a woman who had lived in Switzerland since she was eight, speaks fluent Swiss German, has three children with Swiss passports, has no criminal record, doesn’t claim welfare and is politically active was rejected. On the face of it, one would have thought she would be a ‘shoo-in’ for a Swiss passport. How wrong you are..

Read the article and you will find the reasons why the outcome of her application was rejected. You will also be able to read the comments to the article, among which is mine.

As I wrote, my view is that only those to whom ‘ownership’ of a nation is a ‘given’ should be able to confer citizenship and the benefits that such brings.

Should that not be the case in our nation, the United Kingdom?

Is there not a case made, in this instance, for ‘people power’ – and should not ‘people power’ be able to decide any matter which affects that people’s nation?

What do my readers think?

Re-announcing a re-announcement

We have today been advised that our government is to tunnel under Stonehenge to convert the present single carriageway of the A303 into dual carriageway.

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, is quoted, stating:

This government is taking the big decisions for Britain’s future, underlined by our record £15 billion funding for road schemes. This major investment in the south-west will transform the A303 and benefit those locally by cutting congestion and improving journey times. It will also boost the economy, linking people with jobs and businesses with customers – driving forward our agenda to build a country that works for everyone and not just the privileged few.

The only reason this government is taking the big decisions for Britain’s future is because they had no option; as this article, dated 12/01/2014 from Witterings from Witney (my previous blog), shows*.

Not only is Grayling being economical with the actualité but so is Highways England Chief Executive, Jim O’Sullivan.

*It will be noticed that one or two or the links in the WfW article quoted are no longer working, although the important EU links are still viewable.

Home Truths (4)

#4 – a question to politicians and journalists

Whatever we wish to achieve in the future, it must begin by knowing where we are in the present- not where we wish we were, or where we wish others to think we are, but where we are in fact.

Where Brexit is concerned the sooner politicians and political commentators realise the truth contained in the above, the sooner we will be spared what can only be termed their asinine outpourings on this subject.

The conflation, by both politicians and political commentators,  twixt membership of the European Union and access to the Single Market is not only boring, but also frustrating; and does only increase, among those of us who have an understanding of ‘matters EU’, our contempt  of them.

The latest examples of the foregoing can be seen in articles by Matthew d’Ancona in the Guardian and John Rentoul in The Independent – on both of which I have commented. As an aside, the responses to my initial comment on d’Ancona’s comment just illustrates how people can be misled by statements issued by those who are supposed to be all-knowing but aren’t –  and on such misinformation is public opinion formed. In regard to John Rentoul, he obviously does not appear – at the time of writing – to bother to review comments.

So, the question to politicians is: if you so obviously know not about Brexit (or other matter) just why the hell should we elect and re-elect you, or listen/read what are your ill-informed statements; and to journalists, just why the hell should we purchase, or read on-line having paid, in some instances, to overcome what amounts to a form of censorship, the newspapers for which you write?

Just asking………………….

 

 

 

What a hole(y) mess

Earlier this month the Local Government Association stated that they estimate it will cost £14bn, over the next two years, to repair all the potholes in England and Wales, while complaining that the combined local authorities only receive £4.4bn annually. They also complained that it is wrong and unfair that the Government allocates almost 40 times more to maintaining national roads, which it controls, compared with local roads, which are overseen by councils. It is paramount this funding discrepancy is swiftly plugged.

It is reported that the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency stated in its Annual Report and Accounts 2015/16 that income from this source (VED) – to March 31st 2016 – was £5.930 billion compared to £6.023 for 2014/15 (-£93 million). While this drop is intimated it may be due to the change in respect of tax discs no longer being required, it is logical to believe that government in their zeal to encourage ‘green’ measures managed to drop themselves into a rather large (pot)hole of their own making where the revenue stream from VED is concerned. Witness this long list of vehicles which do not require an owner to pay VED.

Vehicle Excise Duty was first introduced in the 1888 budget and the current system of excise duty applying specifically to motor vehicles was introduced in 1920. This excise duty was ring-fenced for road construction and was paid directly into a special Road Fund from 1920 until 1937 after which it was treated as general taxation. Even during this period the majority of the cost of road building and improvement came from general and local taxation owing to the tax being too low for the upkeep of the roads. The 2015 budget announced that by 2020 VED payments would be ring-fenced for ‘road investment’.

If VED did not generate the necessary income in the 30s it sure as hell won’t now, especially when one considers what can be termed the additional cost of upgrading roads like the A14 and A303 which were designated as priority and ‘feeder’ corridors in the TEN-T programme – even allowing for the input of a few million euros by the EU.

This last point raises a question or two for those ‘cut and run’ Tories like Iain Duncan Smith – work on the A14 is in progress and not due to finish until 2020, so what happens to monies received from the EU? Were the EU to ‘turn off the tap’, presumably if the project is to be completed, our government would have to repay EU money already provided and then fund the ‘EU share’.

In any event, where road building and maintenance is concerned, the government will need to put their hand in our pockets yet again as there are only two ways they can get the money; (a) by borrowing, which then increases the national debt, or (b) raise taxation on fuel.

Folks, our benevolent government ain’t anywhere near finished picking our pockets……

 

 

 

Home Truths (3)

#3 – another question for politicians.

Bearing in mind the current government is in effect cutting funding to the NHS:

It is amazing 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, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.

India is home to the Hindu religion, a  religion which holds sacred the cow. The United Kingdom is home to the political religion, a religion which holds sacred the National Health Service.

With the population increasing (added to which are immigration factors), with life expectancy increasing and with new drugs increasingly becoming available just what is it that prevents politicians being unable to recognise that the cost of funding the NHS, in its current form, will increase exponentially. This has been known (or should have been) for ages (late 60s/early 70s?), yet politicians continued to ignore that which stared them in the face. Those that practice the religion of politics are so entranced by the beauty of their vision that they cannot see the ugly reality they are creating in the real world. 

It stands to reason that the health care system in this country requires wholesale change, said change being carried over a period of time. There is another way:

Health care in Switzerland is universal but it is administered by individual cantons. There are no free state-provided health services, but private health insurance is compulsory for all persons residing in Switzerland (within three months of taking up residence or being born in the country). The whole health care system is geared toward the general goals of keeping the system competitive across cantonal lines, promoting general public health and reducing costs while encouraging individual responsibility.

Just saying……….