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Sunday, August 31, 2003

Blair Beggars Belief

Ironies refuses to belive this headline from The Independent can possibly be true. Here it is, not a word of a lie!

Blair plans new 'Ministry of Truth' for the post-spin era

but the best bit of all is this:-

But one rumour causing grim amusement in Whitehall is that the brain behind the strategy is Peter Mandelson, the former Labour Party communications director who is credited with being the first of the new wave of spin-doctors when he worked for the party in the 1980s.

posted by Martin at 8/31/2003 08:38:00 PM

Berlusconi and Putin

According to this report from the news agency Xinhuanet President Putin during his weekend in Sardinia as the guest of the EU President seems to be indicating a small move in the direction of the US position over the UN status in deployment of troops to Iraq.

No mention has been made in any of these reports on a for once positive role for the EU in International Affairs for the so-called High Representative for the EU's Foreign Affairs who as far as I can gather was lin Iran at the time!

posted by Martin at 8/31/2003 08:02:00 PM

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Eurozone inflation rises

Just when the ECB seemed to be getting its collectively befuddled mind around to the possibility of considering that deflation was, perhaps, after all something that could happen within a currency union, blow me down if inflation doesn't raise its head again, this according to the pink'un:-

Eurozone inflation rose to 2.1 per cent in August, above the European Central Bank's 2 per cent "ceiling" and its highest reading in four months, an official estimate indicated on Friday.

That compared to the 1.9 per cent rate recorded in July by Eurostat, the statistical arm of the European Union. Analysts had based their expectations of about 2 per cent on rises in energy prices and an increase in the cost of food resulting from crop losses during the recent heatwave.

The figures should kill any discussion of deflation in Europe, European Commission spokesman on economic and monetary affairs Gerassimos Thomas said on Friday.

But analysts said the rise in the inflation rate would not necessarily head off further interest rate cuts from the ECB, given the precarious state of the eurozone economy.

Germany, Italy and the Netherlands slipped into recession in the second quarter of the year, and growth across the eurozone was flat compared with the first three months of the year.

However, the ECB is expected to leave its key interest rate unchanged at 2 per cent when it meets next week. But a poll of economists carried out by Reuters this week showed 37 of 62 still expected the ECB to cut interest rates later this year or next.

A final figure for August inflation and a full breakdown showing the impact of higher energy costs and food prices will be released in mid-September.

This must be a bit disappointing for Eurostat who made this announcement. In a deflationary environment the corrupt officials who are reportedly to be found amongst their numbers would have been able to buy so much more with all those millions they extracted from the EU budget, apparently under the knowing gaze of some in the Commission.

posted by Martin at 8/30/2003 09:01:00 AM

Swedish Euro Referendum - "Just when you thought you had heard it all!"

EuObserver reports the Swedish Prime Minister Staring defeat in the face is now suggesting to the electorate that if they give him their vote and vote 'YES" for the Euro, he might not take them in anyway :-

"There is no date on the ballot paper. We say yes to the monetary union. We accept the third phase [changeover to the euro] and later it is up to the government and the parliament to decide when we join. What we demand is of course that a stability pact that functions is in place", said Mr Persson.

The EU nonsense permeates everything all across the Continent. There can only be one interpretation of the above remark, the Swede's Prime Minister. 10 -12 per cent behind in the polls for a referendum at a time of his choice, is trying to con them by a pretence that "Trust Him" if they vote yes he might not take them in anyway!

posted by Martin at 8/30/2003 08:47:00 AM

Friday, August 29, 2003

Blair Next?

I ended my last post with a rhetorical question "Can Blair be far behind?" What surprise, therefore, on my weekly visit to the site of The Spectator to find the cover proclaiming Time to go Tony with the story headlined The hand of History is pointing to the door.

Before learning of Campbell's departure this would have seemed a normal piece of wishful thinking to which that excellent magazine is occasionally prone, but with Campbell gone Blair loses all point. This is an extract from the article by Ron Liddle which we recommend reading in full:-

Tony Blair should relinquish his premiership. .........................And the things which have brought about this situation — culminating the Hutton inquiry — were not rare examples of a lapse in judgment, which we might be inclined to forgive, if not forget, but are instead emblematic of the long-term traits of this regime: lying, dissembling, and the orchestrated smearing and vilifying of people who have objected to the lying and dissembling..

Wonderful how the spin plays on! Prescott appears on TV to say it was all planned months ago for this summer, a line continued by Annanova, and yet (also according to the latter) no date has been set for the departure, no replacement's name available, Campbell's partner leaving Cherie's employ simultaneously but also without firm date.

Campbell is leaving because what was portrayed as spin is now clearly seen by all as clearly not the truth, the remaining lie we will now watch played out, BUT NOT I SUSPECT FOR LONG, will be that Blair can survive alone!

posted by Martin at 8/29/2003 04:01:00 PM

Alistair Campbell's Resignation

Great news indeed. Campbell having weathered several earlier storms not least the controversy surrounding the arrangements for the Queen Mother's funeral, has finally resigned his post (last known we believe as Director of Downing Street Communications), in reality co-Prime Minister.Campbell Resignation

The degradation of the British political process and damage wrought to the public's trust in the democratic system by this one man has been absolutely enormous! And it must be greeted with a huge sense of relief by all those who instinctively grasp where the country's true interests really lie. We the unspinnable rejoice!

Can Blair be far behind?

posted by Martin at 8/29/2003 03:21:00 PM

French Call for Transatlantic Charter

The French Foreign Minister yesterday called for a new transatlantic charter according to this report in The Guardian from which this is a small but pertinent quote:-

The idea of a transatlantic charter was first suggested by President Jacques Chirac in 1996, but it has never been implemented. The idea of its revival triggered scepticism yesterday. "When politicians run out of ideas on how to fix relations, they reach for charters," one commentator said.

President Jaques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin would do better to concentrate on doing something positive to aid their beleaguered Prime Minister Raffarin rather than further pontificating in the international arena. As we can see from the brutally descriptive photograph published by the Corriere della Sera which is linked from the post immediately beneath this, Raffarin appears like a man on whom the light has suddenly dawned.

It would appear that up to this point the French Prime Minister has doggedly been pursuing solutions to the huge problems now facing the French nation. While so engaged he has presumably been content to leave international and EU matters in the hands of President Chirac and Foreign Minister Villepin.

Raffarin left for Brussels apparently with the belief that the prospect of fines of several billions of Euros were something upon which he could rely on his foreign affairs double act to resolve. Now he knows different.

The potential crisis facing France, Germany, the Euro and consequently the EU can no longer be ignored!

Next Monday morning summer wistfulness must be put far behind. It may well only be the first day of September, but a long period of cold hard reality most surely needs to begin. Europe's elitist politicians who seem for so long to have been occupying a strange sort of fantasy world where all problems can be deferred indefinitely, or even made to completely disappear if enough heads of state discuss them for as long as possible around as many tables as possible. Unhappily many of those who bear the responsibilty for the EU's economic quagmire still hold the offices from which they created the mess. Honestly admitting past errors will therefore be a necessary painful first step!

Europe's pampered elite, including the corrupt component structural parts of the EU, must finally face the real harsh economic facts staring them full square in the face. For the sake of all Europe's citizens 1st September 2003 had better be the first day of a long hard slog back to reality.

If finally Europe's leaders decide to act responsibly! And begin to institute policies that address the economic realities! Then one day, perhaps, even the French might come to view the proposal for a new transatlantic charter as the high point of an era of ludicrous folly, which to me it truly seems.

posted by Martin at 8/29/2003 09:54:00 AM

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Never mind the Italian

The picture of Prodi and Raffarin tells it all in this item from Milan's Corriere della Sera

posted by Martin at 8/28/2003 08:30:00 PM

Kinnock in jeopardy?

According to an article in Stern it could be Commission Vice President Kinnock who finally feels the heat of the Eurostat scandal Letter to deepen Eurostat scandal

posted by Martin at 8/28/2003 08:26:00 PM

Biometric IDs

The public are being urged to avoid biometric trial according to vnunet

"Without cooperation, the trial cannot proceed. So my advice is: don't participate," said Ian Brown, director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research.

"The whole process, since home secretary David Blunkett announced the plans, has been frankly Orwellian," he said.

"First they try to play down the requirement to hold the card; then the government ignores the responses to its consultation exercise. People are against holding these cards."

posted by Martin at 8/28/2003 04:56:00 PM

A Critique of Jack Straw's Speech

My views on the above can be found here

posted by Martin at 8/28/2003 01:21:00 PM

EU nears final success in destroying North Sea Cod Fishing Industry

In my mind the wrong Prime Minister will be grilled by Hutton today!

According to this item from BBC News the Continental Powers that control the European Union are now within a hairsbreadth of completely destroying the North Sea cod fishing industry. The news item begins:-

The number of cod in the North Sea has fallen to a critical low point, a senior fisheries scientist says.

Unless the surviving fish can reproduce successfully, he believes, the area's cod fishery will soon be a memory.

The cod are now at the lowest level ever seen, according to his observations.

This act of aggressive sabotage, made possible by the lie delivered in Parliament by the late Geoffrey Ripon and connived in by the silently seated Edward Heath at his side was believed by a gullible and betrayed House of Commons. It has taken just over thirty years.........shamefully thirty years during which British Ministers retained some responsibility for our seas and fisheries ..............unlike the situation prevailing today, as specifically agreed and concealed by lies to Parliament by the conservative administration of now ailing ex-Prime Minister Edward Heath.

With Heath having recently been flown back from Australia due to ill health, would it not be timely, sensible and a matter of the utmost urgency to now grant him immunity from the possibility of prosecution for his known treasonable actions. In exchange we should demand a detailed explanation of his motives and full details regarding his Continental co-conspirators and their possible next targets in the attempted destruction of our economy, so that we are able, while still just barely surviving as a nation state, to belatedly take some preventative measures to ensure that their schemes, rapidly reaching fruition with the pending Constitution, can at last be thwarted.

posted by Martin at 8/28/2003 06:49:00 AM

Raffarin Reprieved

Remarkably little coverage of Raffarin's Brussels visit in the regular media. Le Figaro seems silent this morning and while the FT subsription pages have an item it is not, of course, available to free-loaders such as ourselves. The Gulf Daily News carries a short piece but the best report strangely enough is one that first appeared late yesterday afternoon in the Seattle-Post Intelligence Seattle Post Intelligence.

Ironic indeed that the issue presently looking the most likely to cause the collapse of the Euro, hopefully inevitably followed by the disintegration of whole European Union itself only receives detailed and freely available coverage in the North West coast of the USA and the Arabian Gulf. Here are some highlights from the Seattle paper:-

Raffarin said his government would aim to reduce the deficit next year, but he declined to deny a report in the Paris business daily Les Echos that the budget imbalance would exceed the EU limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product for a third successive year in 2004. Raffarin said government estimates for next year will only be available in mid-September.

A third lapse could trigger fines of up to 0.5 percent of GDP for breaking an EU "stability pact" designed to underpin the euro currency, by preventing member governments running runaway deficits.

French GDP in 2001 was euro1.5 trillion ($1.63 trillion), suggesting a possible fine of up to euro7.5 billion ($8.2 billion).

posted by Martin at 8/28/2003 06:33:00 AM

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Straw beats drum for Europe

This party political speech made by Jack Straw, Britain's Foreign Secretary, but issued from a Labour Party web-site 'Labour engaged in Europe while the Tories are in fantasy land'

This is an important speech on which we will comment in detail when time allows, but a brief glance shows it claims nothing new in the form of EU achievements other than the old lie of European peace, entirely due to Nato, and if anything in our view more endangered than safeguarded by the dangerously mis-managed EU of today.

Oh! Straw does believe our our air and beaches are cleaner, as if that could not have been achieved more cheaply and easily without sacrificing our nations independence.

It appears Labour is belatedly realising that the EU, even without the Constitution is now one huge vote loser.

posted by Martin at 8/27/2003 06:28:00 PM

Joshka Fischer strongarms the smaller nations

Following Schroeders agreement in Italy to try and place a MAXIMUM of three amendments to the proposed EU Constitution, effectively making any IGC irrelevant, Germany's Foreign Minister is today reported by Euractiv to be in Prague exerting direct pressure on one of the smaller new entry nations:-

"The basic principle must be: who opens the consensus is responsible for finding a new consensus," warned Joschka Fisher speaking at a news conference on an official visit to the Czech Republic. Should the IGC fail, the EU will finds itself in "a very terrible situation," added Mr. Fisher referring to the intergovernmental conference, due to start on 4 October 2003, at which EU governments will discuss the Convention's proposals on the new EU Constitution.

According to a similar report from the EuObserver Fischer warns of EU Spring crisis this warning is aimed at all smaller countries who are planning a meeting in that capital city next Monday.

A rushed agreement on the Convention would be a disaster for Britain too, with the possibility arising of a domestically mortally wounded Tony Blair being able to use his grotesquley large majority of subservient MPs to force the Constitution through parliament in a desperate attempt to salvage some form of future political role for himself on the European stage.

posted by Martin at 8/27/2003 03:47:00 PM

ID Cards & Biometrics

According to today's Guardian Blunkett is planning to proceed with an ID Card test scheme involving biometrics without any legislative approval:-

A Home Office spokesman last night denied that the trial was a pilot for identity cards, but acknowledged that "its results will feed into the debate" on the project. The pilot scheme was "a testing process for facial recognition for one-to-one verification using iris and fingerprint biometrics", he said. That would involve an immigration or police officer using a scanner to check the identity of a cardholder.

The article is ID Cards to be tested in "Small Market Town"

posted by Martin at 8/27/2003 10:35:00 AM

Swedish Euro Referendum

David Carr of samizdata.net has posted an interesting report from Dr Sean Gabb on the progress of the referendum campaign in that country. We recommend a read from this link Fighting the euro in Sweden.

posted by Martin at 8/27/2003 10:21:00 AM

Bush's speech on terror

Prominent coverage from the FT on Bush's speech to the American Legion veterans in St Louis Missouri. Backing up the article posted yesterday on Ironies by Mark Steyn Bush said Iraq was "now a point of testing in the war on terror" and called on US allies to help in the fight.

The Daily Telegraph in its coverage meanwhile highlights the fact that for the US forces in Iraq the 'Peace' deaths (now) exceed war toll .

posted by Martin at 8/27/2003 06:24:00 AM

Libyan sanctions vote in UN

Any wondering, besides myself, what has happened to the British resolution tabled in the UN on the above matter, last reported as stymied by France, might be interested in this report of 25th August by ITV News that a UN vote is still expected this week. Ironies will continue to watch events unfold.

posted by Martin at 8/27/2003 06:18:00 AM

Janet Daley

Yesterday evening an article was posted, without comment from us, written by Mark Steyn in the Chicago Sun Times. It had been a while since we had come across something from this prolific writer, who in this humble and little read blogger's view is one of the most astute commentators on the international scene we have seen so far this century.

Another such is Janet Daley whose column in today's Daily Telegraph which, again strictly in my own opinion only, is essential reading for any who wish to begin to understand what has been happening in Britain for the past six years. Not only that, however, but also after reading the article some reason for the feeling of pointlessness evoked by the media circus that the Hutton inquiry can also begin to be grasped. A few quotes to whet the appetite:-

The intelligence dossier about which we are all so exercised was itself a PR stunt. Its entire function was to influence (or "reassure", as Mr Campbell would have it) public opinion. That is why such a huge amount of Downing Street attention was devoted to it.

In this realm of Appearance, the test of what is true is not, "Can it be verified by physical proof?", but "Does it sound convincing?" What matters in politics is not what happens, but what you can make people believe has happened.


We will now never quite forget that Mr Blair's public words, however personal and emotionally charged they may seem, are carefully composed by someone else and that they are contrived for maximum effect.


The risk is that the electorate will lose sight of the distinction, too, and the real good that has been done in Iraq will be confounded with the squalid manoeuvring of wordsmiths.

The full article can be read from this link Truth, lies and Tony Blair's third way
By Janet Daley
and for any who missed her equally insightful column on Hutton two weeks ago that link is here

posted by Martin at 8/27/2003 06:08:00 AM

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

French difficulties

The Washington Times carries this:-

" Public debt in France is expected to climb to more than 60 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), passing the ceiling set by the European stability pact.
Officials concede that Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's budget for next year is virtually in tatters, while farmers demand compensation for the lost crops, underpaid teachers threaten strikes and the whole country clamors for an investigation into the ailing hospital and health system.
The government's return to work after the summer pause is being described by the French media as "at high risk."
In his first gesture toward the angry farmers, Mr. Raffarin promised to release the equivalent of $550 million in emergency aid — about 14 percent of the estimated losses.
Meanwhile, the various ministries demand more funds: the Education Ministry for more teachers, the Justice Ministry for more judges to cope with crowded court calendars and the Interior Ministry for a more effective security apparatus in crime-ridden urban ghettos."

.....from a report from France titled Officials get the heat for France's summer crises

While from the EU in Brussels we read the following from today's midday press release Further support measures for farmers hit by drought . Three measures announced by Franz Fischler the agricultural commissioner were described as costing:-

"The budgetary possibilities within the 2003 budget for this measure are limited to slightly over € 400 million. The distribution of the available budget by Member State concerned is: Germany: € 87 million, France: € 225 million, Italy: € 63 million, Portugal: € 25 million and Luxembourg € 1.4 million."

I make that 56 per cent for the French!

posted by Martin at 8/26/2003 06:57:00 PM

Mark Steyn

Here is an article dated 24th August from the Chicago Sun Times Iraq is battlefield for war vs. terror

posted by Martin at 8/26/2003 06:38:00 PM

Demi-Apologies to The Independent

We missed this good item from the Business Section of the above newspaper. France jeopardises euro stability pact. It does at least get the topic correct but seems to have missed the importance of the windscreen rather than the rearview mirror!

posted by Martin at 8/26/2003 06:16:00 PM

Raffarin's petit dejeuner froid

As discussed extensively here on Ironies both yesterday and today, the French Prime Minister is in for a difficult time on his visit to Brussels tomorrow. Nice to see EuObserver after the slow holiday period also belatedly picking up on the story Raffarin in for tough Brussels breakfast. It is more than the British press seem to have so far managed!

posted by Martin at 8/26/2003 06:10:00 PM

Sterling news from Scotland

According to this article in The Scotsman Delay in joining single currency deals blow to pro-euro group

THE pro-euro group, Britain in Europe, is facing a crisis which could deprive it of its leader and cause major rifts within the organisation, it emerged yesterday.

A board meeting has been fixed for 10 September to discuss where the organisation has gone wrong and where it should go in the future.

Britain in Europe was set up to persuade the British public of the benefits of membership of the single currency.

This is also confirmed by an updated report from The Guardian which appeared within the last half hour though having little more to add Euro lobby admits inquiry setback , but we had to post it, such a sorry tale for the Gruniad to tell.

posted by Martin at 8/26/2003 05:59:00 PM

French Deficit

Le Figaro continues to focus on the problem arising from the huge French public spending deficit. In twenty years the paper points out public debt has gone from 25 to over 60 per cent of PIB (GDP?) with interest charges now costing 3.2 per cent of GDP and costs per family of two children at 2640 euros, twice the amount received in state benefits.

The truly incredible feature of this problem to this observer, is the absolute refusal to accept the true depth of the problem by the French general public, witness their attitude to French public workers striking to maintain their early retirement ages AND even more incredibly their politicians who must from the trends have clearly seen this problem coming at them having agreed to pay the EU huge fines for breaking the 60 per cent maximum deficit figure in the Growth and Stability pact.

Given this blindingly obvious demonstration of the total absence of responsible government on the part of our nearest continental neighbour it absolutely beggars belief that supposedly thinking politicians in Britain can possibly still consider that joining the Euro might still be in the best interests of Britain. Thank goodness Blair has now lost all sales ability as commented upon in the post below.

posted by Martin at 8/26/2003 07:59:00 AM

Blair blows it

Today's Daily Telegraph Leading Article highlights a happy spin-off from the ongoing Dr Kelly afair. In Death of a Euro salesman the newspaper points out the hopelessness of "trust me I'm an honest kinda guy" Blair ever being able to sell anything again, let alone the Euro to a sceptical British public. It is not all good news however, as the article so correctly and sombrely points out:-

This is not just our opinion; it is also the opinion of Britain in Europe, who arguably have more at stake in this matter than anyone else. As we report, the pro-euro group is crumbling, its staff demoralised, its activities on hold, its director contemplating resignation.

Yet sincere euro-fanatics need not despair entirely, for the proposed European constitution would make the question of euro membership largely redundant. Under its terms, Brussels would "coordinate the economic and employment policies of the member states", gaining control of everything from maximum working hours to permissible budget deficits.

In such circumstances, the right to mint our own currency would be like Scotland's right to print its own banknotes today: symbolically important, but no guarantee of economic independence. Perhaps Mr Blair is playing a longer game than we think.

posted by Martin at 8/26/2003 07:29:00 AM

Compressing the Constitution

Germany and Italy yesterday formed a new Axis to force through the proposed constitution with the fewest possible changes. Incredibly for a document as sweeping, draconian and unworkable as that prepared by Valery Giscard d'Estaing's Convention, they are talking only of one, two or maximum three changes.

According to the report in today's EuObserver they fear opening the package to wholesale revision will preclude any chance of final agreement. Europe is thus to be forged on the basis of "We know its a mess, but its all we can get!" The full report can be read from this link Rome backs plan for quick constitution

posted by Martin at 8/26/2003 07:22:00 AM

Monday, August 25, 2003

French Deficits and Emergency Funds

An interesting article in this mornings Le Figaro gives notice of something for all to watch on Wednesday. French Prime Minister Raffarin is apparently heading for Brussels to plead for EU emergency funds (first set up as a result of central European flooding last year of which Germany was the main beneficiary) for compensation for the forest fires and droughts experienced by France this summer.

Th fact that France (along with Germany of course) has recently been stubbornly in breach of the deficit limits of the growth and stability pact and should now be facing the prospect of fines rather than EU funded handouts, will make this a further fascinating Eurofiasco to follow.

posted by Martin at 8/25/2003 09:02:00 AM

Escaping the State

Harry Mount in the Telegraph writes amusingly on the problems with non-existent state provided services The Great Escape, or how I finally shook off the state . He will, however, continue to have to pay the salaries and inflation proofed pensions of the useless dross that produces the kind of rubbish mentioned in the post below.

posted by Martin at 8/25/2003 08:02:00 AM

Pinch yourself!

There are some newspaper items that hit one as so utterly unbelievable, that pinching oneself to check you are really awake seems the only possible reaction. One such is this report in this morning's Daily Telegraph Rethink for 'dumbed down' test on the Bard the following are two of the questions from this test which required no reading of the Bard's works to pass:-

One question on Henry V states that the king was regarded as a hero and asks candidates to write about "people you admire".

Another refers to the importance of appearance in Twelfth Night and asks pupils: "How important is what you wear? Write your views as if contributing to a piece in a teenage magazine."

What sort of people are these who contrive such questions, and have sufficient power and authority to actually get such nonsense into the classroom. They should be found and fired, but of course that's probably "impractical" too.

posted by Martin at 8/25/2003 07:52:00 AM

Sunday, August 24, 2003

The Dutch

Last evening I watched a DVD called Goldmember, a follow on from the equally ridiculous and enjoyable The Spy who Shagged Me. I was somewhat bemused as to what the Dutch could have done to deserve the rough treatment they receive in the film, but perhaps this item that I found on 'Euractiv' partly explains it. 'Dutch government wants obligatory cruise control in every new European car'.

I have had several cars with cruise control and it is occasionally useful on long interstate trips within the USA. On Europe's crowded roads it is rarely worth considering, least of all in the almost constant stop/go that for me characterises Hollands highways.

posted by Martin at 8/24/2003 05:02:00 PM

Saturday, August 23, 2003

UN Bombed in Baghdad

Apart from the Leader in The Spectator linked here thoughtful comment on the above topic has been difficult to find.

We found this on a blog new to us, porphyrogenitus which discusses the French aspect which, unhappily for the UN, seems to be becoming considered as synonymous with the views of the world body itself.

Reports from CNN and elsewhere at the start of this weekend seem to imply that ex-secret service agents of the Baath Party had been hired to take care of internal UN security, another sign that the matter is not going to be allowed to be considered in a cool and rational light.

Jack Straw's dash to New York and press conference with Kofi Anan shed little light on the matter, while rumours of the French now seeking full authority and power to be transferred to the UN with no mention as to from whence will come the troops, appears to me as more unnecessary trouble making rather than a realistic or constructive suggestion. The deaths at the UN Canal Hotel and now of three uniformed and armed British soldiers in Basra today, should surely impress upon those in negotiations at the UN that this is a far too important matter than for more mere political point scoring.

I see no evidence that the UN is equipped for anything other than humanitarian aid co-ordination in Iraq, it apparently carried the taint of the Aid for Oil programme it administered for years in Iraq during the sanctions, and now seems to have paid a heavy price for having gambled so heavily on apparently non-existent good-will. The principle deficit the organisation seems to have for a fuller role in Iraq would therefore, sadly, appear to be management expertise.

posted by Martin at 8/23/2003 04:28:00 PM

Vatican rewrites history

According to this report in The Independent Citing a letter recently discovered in the Vatican's archive, Archbishop Amato, who heads the body formerly known as the Holy Office - or the Inquisition - claimed Galileo was accorded every civility while residing at the Inquisition's pleasure. ... and quoted :-

that the trial of the scientist accused of heresy (should)be concluded quickly as his health was poor.

The article which details the attempt by the present Pope to appear science friendly and hints that there might even be some merit in the theory of evolution ends with these paragraphs:-

Today, Jesuit astronomers man the telescopes on the roof of the Pope's summer palace south of Rome, watching Mars as it comes closest in 60,000 years while the Pope sleeps downstairs.

"This is our way of finding God" said one Jesuit from Detroit

However large their mirror, one thing they won't spot is the EU's SMART 1 lunar exploration vehicle, at one cubic metre it will be invisible throughout its eigteen month journey to the moon, always assuming, of course, that it makes it off the earth.

posted by Martin at 8/23/2003 03:28:00 PM

Not working, not voting?

There seemed little of interest to read in the newspapers this morning so I clicked to visit The Guardian's debate page 'Can Labour be re-elected at the next election', or some such topic, and was amused by the first contribution I found which is quoted in full here:-

spidermonkey - 10:39am Aug 22, 2003 BST (#15 of 29)

BTW I don't work very often so its a long time since I paid national insurance.

Can someone give me a quick rundown on it and its levels over the past, say, 2 years?

Any wishing to join this clealy fascinating discussion can do so from this link I never thought I'd get to post this discussion, but: Is there any chance that Labour can save the next election?

posted by Martin at 8/23/2003 10:13:00 AM

Friday, August 22, 2003

French Heatwave Deaths

The French government is coming in for much criticism over its handling of the recent heatwave. While over 10,000 deaths have been reported, Le Figaro, in an article today, points out that close to half of those were over 85 years of age. The high temperatures were, therefore, possibly the trigger to many of these deaths but the fact that so many victims were born before the end of the Great War also had to play the major part.

I would derive a lot more amusement from the fact that the French populace finds it perfectly reasonable to rail against their government for the high temperatures in summer and the effects of the passage of the years, were it not for the prevalence of similar tendencies amongst my own countrymen. Is this a result of the prominence humanism is afforded in the new European Constitution I wonder?

In my view politicians who act as if they were gods should be removed from power via the ballot box, not encouraged in their absurd phantasmagorical posturings by a media all too ready to accept the premise that all is predictable and preventable. It isn't!

posted by Martin at 8/22/2003 10:19:00 AM

Re-examining Imperialism

The leading article in this week's The Spectator titled The Common Enemy provides an interesting analysis of the ancient dilemmas that face liberal imperialists following the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad at the Canal Hotel:-

'The UN and US suffer, therefore, from the paradox which has always afflicted the liberal imperialist, namely that in order to bring freedom to people less fortunate than himself, he must first impose his will upon them, in the first instance by force of arms.'

The article ends with some pertinent points regarding the political pitfalls that lie in wait for those who seek to fudge their motives.

posted by Martin at 8/22/2003 09:59:00 AM

Why the rush for a constitution?

A German constitutional judge has queried the reason for the haste which the EU seems to be making towards agreeing its Constitution

.... the new Constitution is such an "extraordinary treaty and the EU is such a complex organism itself that I cannot, as a lawyer and judge, understand why there is so much time pressure and why more time is not taken to think over certain issues".

posted by Martin at 8/22/2003 08:23:00 AM

Silly Season grinds on

This is also from the Daily Telegraph Catholics incensed

posted by Martin at 8/22/2003 08:13:00 AM

Britain delays UN resolution at French request

Further evidence of British fidelity as an ally in today's Daily Telegraph Paris forces UN Libya vote delay

posted by Martin at 8/22/2003 08:10:00 AM

Thursday, August 21, 2003


As long predicted the real effects of the lunatic Euro project become daily more apparent. This report is from the IHT France joins 3 neighbors in an economic decline

France which seems intent on continuing to have its Foreign Minister poke the US with a stick in whatever orifice he first spots, most recently over the raising of UN sanctions on Libya, seems the least likely country to enjoy any near-term spin-off from the better than expected figures from the US economy that seemed to show the recovery, while patchy, was nevertheless underway. Stocks cling to modest gains as investors find hope in strong Philly Fed data, lower jobless claims.

posted by Martin at 8/21/2003 06:51:00 PM

More on Smart Mobs

This time from the Washington Times with a reference to Emerson and American self-reliance.

'Smart mobs,' cellphones and summer silliness

posted by Martin at 8/21/2003 06:36:00 PM

Big Brother Arrives

Iris scanning in European passports being prepared is the headline to a report in today's EuObserver from which the following is quoted:-

Civil rights organisations have expressed concern that biometric information could be used to record people's movements and have requested a public debate on the issue ahead of any decision making (Photo: European Commission)
As early as 2005 traditional European passports could be replaced by a new set of identification measures including biometric information (fingerprints, iris scans or DNA).

Statewatch reports that 140 million euros have been budgeted by the EU for the necessary equipment.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"This will mean the mandatory introduction of biometric and maybe other data on all travellers - whether migrants, visitors or EU citizens. The adoption of this decision for the wholesale surveillance of peoples' movements by the EU Council (the 15 Prime Ministers) has been taken without any public consultation or debate in parliaments. The EU Council cannot legislate but its decisions are routinely translated into EU law - it is a totally undemocratic procedure."

When such draconian methods of population control can be put into effect without even the merest pretence of public, let alone parliamentary, debate having taken place it should surely be coming clear to all Europeans the true nature of the threat with which they are presently being confronted.

These proposal will be next discussed in secret (as ever) on September 12th with a target date for their introduction 2005 only two years away.

posted by Martin at 8/21/2003 12:50:00 PM

Fortieth anniversary of "I have a dream"

To mark this we provide a link to the full speech made by Martin Luther King as published in The Guardian

"I have a dream"

posted by Martin at 8/21/2003 12:28:00 PM

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

George W's Inbox (on a lighter note)

Thanks to www.stephenpollard.net for this Guffaw

posted by Martin at 8/20/2003 08:48:00 PM

Anti-Americanism remains the cement for the EU

While we yesterday hailed and applauded frist signs of German willingness to participate more fully in the post-Baath Party Iraq, one swallow does not indeed make a spring as this round-up of recent European press reports put out by Deutsche Welle shows only too clearly American Failures?

Could this, just possibly, be a reaction to the tragic bombing of the Baghdad UN Headquarters? I would hope not, but the European left wing press quoted in this item, had placed if not all, then most of their eggs in that basket and now have nowhere to turn but.........but .... "Echoes of Vietnam for crying out loud!" Surely paid journalists can do better than that!

posted by Martin at 8/20/2003 07:02:00 PM

Centralisation, people, money, power

Centralisation, people, money, power; centralisation, people, money, power; centralisation, people, money, power; centralisation, people, money, power.

Barnier: Eurocorps needed to fight catastrophes

Centralisation, people, money, power; centralisation, people, money, power; centralisation, people, money, power; centralisation, people, money, power.

posted by Martin at 8/20/2003 06:34:00 PM

My Post to the Foreign Office

Given the new opportunity to contribute to a FCO attempt at public dialogue, (their Forum pages are very low tech with a strange maximum of 4096 characters per post) I substantially edited an Ironies post from last June regarding the Constitution's Preamble. Here is the edited version. Most posts so far seem to be of the 'we want a referendum variety' which is probably the simpler and in the long run, therefore, best strategy:-

It states amongst other horrors:-

"Believing that reunited Europe intends to continue along this path of civilisation, progress and prosperity, for the good of all its inhabitants, including the weakest and most deprived; that it wishes to remain a continent open to culture, learning, and social progress; and that it wishes to deepen the democratic and transparent nature of its public life, and to strive for peace, justice and solidarity throughout the world,"

Most of the above paragraph is essentially a long "We all love Motherhood" statement and therefore cannot be sensibly argued against. The concept of 'solidarity' is an entirely different matter.

"Solidarity" has only recently (if at all) become a commonplace in English but is clearly defined as "unity of interests, sympathies, etc., as among members of the same class".

It is thus a politically charged word promoting the concept of equality. Used as it is in the context above it implies that the objectives listed beforehand can best be achieved by the means of solidarity. This is contrary to the economic ideas of Adam Smith and the natural laws of market places, in which I, and I presume many other Europeans still choose to believe. (The collapse of the Soviet Union proved the concept of solidarity as defined in English leads to economic ruin. Its inclusion in this paragraph proves the constitution's framers have learnt nothing from that debacle and glaringly reveals their agenda!)
This whole paragraph thus becomes a blatantly political statement with undertones of Marxist concepts and suggestions of a drive towards world egalitarianism.

It continues "Convinced that, while remaining proud of their own national identities and history, the peoples of Europe are determined to transcend their ancient divisions, and, united ever more closely, to forge a common destiny,"

united ever more closely, to forge a common destiny

I do not choose to make this a personal ambition, others might and they should be free to express that desire in a referendum just as I should be allowed to say NO.

"Convinced that, thus "united in its diversity", Europe offers them the best chance of pursuing with due regard for the rights of each individual and in awareness of their responsibilities towards future generations and the Earth, the great venture which makes of it , a special area of human hope, Europe offers them the best chance of pursuing"

I further do not believe that Europe offers me the best hope of pursuing anything at all as it presently non-democratically exists, nor as it will become under this even less democratic constitution. Consequently I do not see the present EU as a special area of human hope. On the contrary I am fearful for the future not just of myself but of all Europeans and more importantly my children and other generations to come. This EU fills me with dread!

"Grateful to the members of the European Convention for having prepared this Constitution on behalf of the citizens and States of Europe,"


There are many emotions I feel towards those who drafted this document. Gratitude, especially as they were overpaid, expense accounted and self-aggrandized for the work, is certainly not one of them.

All the people of Europe should have a chance to simultaneously pronounce by once-off referendum on this document!.

posted by Martin at 8/20/2003 05:33:00 PM

Government's EU Web Site

On the basis that it is always as well to know as much as possible about what your adversaries are up to there follows a link to the British Government's new web site covering the European Union. Britain and the EU

posted by Martin at 8/20/2003 08:25:00 AM


I really don't know why I decided to make this item my first blog of the day. I read the report in the Independent and was left thoughtless and speechless, is this really a news story or a nonsense First baby born from sperm bought over the internet is that an interesting first or total trivia? Maybe I'll look at it again later today and remove the post when I am fully awake.

posted by Martin at 8/20/2003 08:17:00 AM

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Euorland Wonderland

Two consecutive press releases from our rulers in Brussels the first June 2003 compared to May 2003 Industrial production down by 0.1% in euro-zone and the second July 2003 Euro-zone annual inflation down to 1.9% both issued at noon today. A highlight:-

In June 2003 compared to June 2002, industrial production decreased by 1.6% in the euro-zone and by 0.7% in the EU15.

If anybody works in the ECB during August, the janitor possibly, maybe he will understand that Eurozone interest rates might just have been the teeniest bit too high for a little bitsy bit too long! Come to think of it the janitor probably knows already but just hasn't the authority to do anything about it. And these people still hope for a "YES" vote from the Swedes next month? Amazing, who said nothing happens in August?

posted by Martin at 8/19/2003 04:52:00 PM

German Bridge-Building to the USA

While France continues to do its utmost to continue to play the role of international spoiler (see posts below on Libya), Germany continues to attempt to make amends for its position on Iraq. That in any event is my take on this item from Deutsche Welle Germany seen taking big role role in Nato The news item concludes as follows:-

At the moment, Iraq does not feature as one of those possible deployments. But if the United Nations takes on a greater role in the country’s postwar reconstruction, NATO – and therefore Germany – could be called upon to send peacekeeping troops to relieve the overstretched U.S. and British coalition forces.

I believe this is excellent news and that both British and American forces in Iraq and their countrymen and women at home will all be suitably appreciative. The split within the Western Alliance caused by the !raqi conflict cannot be put behind us soon enough.

George Bush is reported in the Washington Times as having given the US Marines in Liberia a deadline of October for their return home. Even the world's largest and strongest ever super-power cannot rescue and police everywhere at once!

posted by Martin at 8/19/2003 07:44:00 AM

Swedish Euro Referendum

Latest polls I have found indicate the No vote at 49 per cent against 35 for the Yes group. We will watch EU tactics with interest!

posted by Martin at 8/19/2003 07:38:00 AM

Occupying Iraq

A thoughtful comment on the difficulties of transiting from brutal dictatorship to open society in this item from Samizdata contributed by Robert Clayton Dean of Wisconsin USA

posted by Martin at 8/19/2003 07:32:00 AM

Prodi steps in to the UN/Libyan/French imbroglio

In an extraordinarily insensitive and unnecessary move the EU's top civil servant, Commission President Romano Prodi has stepped in to apply more pressure on Libya in support of French extortion demands. That at least seems to be all that can be read into this report from EuObserver EU presses Libya to be flexible

It is not immediately clear how Mr Prodi could have felt empowered to engage in this particular piece of pro-French diplomatic arm-twisting, but one presumes it will not go unnoticed outside the Franco/German axis for which the EU these days appears to solely exist. The position of the Commission's own High Representative will be interesting to hear in due course as would be that of the External Relations Commissioner Patten were his mind not otherwise engaged amongst dreaming spires.

The Daily Telegraph carries the story this morning and the concluding paragraphs of its article Britain's Lockerbie move puts pressure on France give a more realistic overview of the matter as follows:-

US officials said France's stance was "ridiculous".

Abderrhmane Chalgam, Libya's foreign minister, reacted angrily to the French pressure, insisting that the UTA case had been settled.

"That file is completely closed," he told CNN. "We had an agreement with the French and it is completely settled. Any kind of extortion or blackmailing, we're not going to accept that."

In theory, France could veto the lifting of sanctions against Libya although UN diplomats were still confident the resolution would be approved.

But after the rows over Iraq, few analysts underestimate France's capacity for infuriating its UN allies.

Regular and close observers of the European Union will not be surprised at this latest enormous gaffe by Prodi, but more casual onlookers must surely be brought up short to wonder at the sheer stupidity now on display.

posted by Martin at 8/19/2003 07:10:00 AM

Monday, August 18, 2003

Better late than never

Twenty four hours late, which will mean 36/48 hours for their readers The Guardian twigs the major story developing over another possible UN French veto, this time due to their own negotiating incompetence rather than the perceived intransigence of the Anglo Saxons. France Wants More Compensation From Libya , (note the tag 'Breaking News') the following is an extract:-

Embarrassed by the size - $2.7 billion - of the compensation deal Libya recently struck with victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, France wants to renegotiate an earlier agreement for the French UTA jet.

Regular visitors to Ironies will have been watching this story develop since way back when, and in better detail for a while. Soon maybe BBC World or CNN (supposedly immediate media!) will be giving us a report!

posted by Martin at 8/18/2003 06:43:00 PM

The price of Blair

Yielding to terror is the title to this morning's Daily Telegraph Leading Article on the next step Blair might take in appeasing one group of Northern Ireland terrorists. It begins:-

You can almost see Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness rubbing their hands together and asking each other: "What can the IRA demand of Tony Blair next?"

We were going to title our post referencing this timely editorial 'The price of peace' but the problems so well highlighted go much deeper than that. The paper contrasts the Blair policies towards terrorism abroad and his actions at home, it can even easily contemplate Blair agreeing to massive destruction of terrorist records to keep the 'so called' peace in Northern Ireland, while continuing to gather citizen DNA databanks on innocent citizens across the Irish Sea, so too unhappily can we.

posted by Martin at 8/18/2003 08:48:00 AM

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Despite French Hitch......

Now doesn't that just sound the teeniest bit familiar? In fact it is from a Reuters report filed today by Paul Taylor and Dominic Evans with the full title Despite French Hitch Libya Heads to Rehabilitation

Some quotes from the Reuters article:-

France has said it might block the lifting of sanctions to demand that Libya increase the much smaller compensation it paid in 1999 over the mid-air bombing of a French UTA airliner in 1989 in which 170 people died, 65 of them French.

But lawyers and diplomats said Paris did not have a legal leg to stand on since the $36 million it received in damages had been set by a French court and accepted at the time by the French government as an irrevocable and final settlement.

Diplomats doubted that Paris would risk a fresh crisis with the United States and Britain at the United Nations by using its veto on such shaky legal ground, especially since it would also prevent the Lockerbie families from receiving their money.

France said on Sunday it was still in talks to obtain more compensation even though Libya has ruled out a fresh settlement.

"We had an agreement with the French and it is completely settled. Any kind of extortion or blackmailing, we're not going to accept that," Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abderrahmane Chalgam said on Saturday.

What more can we say, "plus ca change plus la meme chose" perhaps, but my keybord lacks the correct keys for full dramatic effect. All that was really needed to be just like the old days were a few well chosen words from Dominique de Villepin.

posted by Martin at 8/17/2003 09:00:00 PM

Fisheries Fiasco

Christopher Booker in his Sunday Telegraph column takes up the subject covered in some detail here yesterday, namely the treasonable situation now pertaining to Britain's fisheries.

Seas fouled with rotting fish in the name of conservation

This journalist mentions the years of pointless protest he has individually mounted regarding what has been allowed to happen to what once was one of our island nation's most precious resources: its surrounding seas, and ends his piece as follows:-

To this Mr Blair's Government raised no objection. So the ultimate responsibility for the obscene disaster unfolding around Britain's coasts lies with our own Government and with every MP who tacitly allows it to continue.

Pleas to the non-existent consciences of Government Ministers and MPs have proved entirely fruitless in the past and will do so again. Only criminal proceedings and rigorous police efforts to find and arrest the culprits can now be sufficient and force action. Arguments that no crime has been committed cannot hold water when as Booker reports:-

Meanwhile they watch their French competitors pulling in huge catches of cod quite legally, because France's quota in these British waters is 10 times larger than that permitted to Britain.

Britain has not been an occupied country for centuries and we have had continuous Government for as long. What is happening has therefore been allowed by individual responsible ministers and they must be brought to account and their motives fully exposed. They have attempted to sell off a huge part of the birthright of the people of this nation, in the process they have lied to Parliament and the electorate, and their successors have continued to cover-up and dissemble. The results have been seen and reported upon by our own fisherman who are witnessing the scandal with their own eyes and having their livliehoods removed from their own pockets while the culprits and their successors grow fat in Brussels.

This is the biggest scandal of our lifetime and those in politics know it. Heath bought our way into Europe with our marine resources, he lied about it in Parliament and every government since has become a party to that lie as they fail to correct the matter. They cannot keep the facts from the people forever, maybe this situation will be the much needed alarm call!

posted by Martin at 8/17/2003 09:23:00 AM

Saturday, August 16, 2003

France loses Alsace

Ever since first hearing of Alsace and Lorraine from a particularly boring history teacher in a stuffy classroom as a young adolescent, my mind has always tended to picture two attractively nubile foreign young ladies, whom in those days it would have been more than a little fun to date. As one more unconvincing excuse as to the possible reasons for the start of the Great War, however, the names were of much less interest.

Since then regular visits to the Alsace have made it into one of my best loved parts of Europe and I was therefore most interested to read the following in this report from the July 2003 edition of 'Save our Sovereignty' compiled by Pam Barden which itself was taken from an item coming from Action Francaise of France 16/115/2/2003 translated by J.M. Parish:-


Without firing a shot, France lost Alsace on 1/1/2003. So what happened? A new lightning war? A new Treaty of Frankfurt? An annexation in the tradition of the heyday of imperial conquest? Nothing of the sort.

Since 1/1, the regional administration of Alsace has been free to deal directly with Brussels, courtesy of a supranational agreement allowing direct control of structural funds eliminating the requirement for endorsement from Paris... This small earth­quake will, slowly but surely, spread until it shakes the foundations of our nation state. Structural funds are like a huge outpouring of manna from heaven, channelled through the coffers of the EU. Directly authorised by Brussels, the funds apply to
agriculture, regional planning, road, airports etc.

Prime Minister Raffarin gave away these powers as an experiment it suggests that Alsace could return to the fold if Paris so wished. In reality, he is granting Alsace an emancipation, which will in effect, be irreversible:other French regions will follow.

Has anybody reported this? Who has understood its implications? And who is there to oppose the process which has been set in train?

If devolution is all John Prescotts idea, as he claims, it would appear that his desire to bring democracy closer to the peoplehas travelled far beyond our shores.

So the tides of history are redirected and who am I to debate the rights or wrongs of where Alsacians should look for their identity, let alone their structural funds. It has always struck me when touring the region that architecturally and culturally Alsace has very much in common with the peoples across the Rhine.

No! It is with the apparent secrecy, or if not that, then the quiet almost underhand way in which such a monumental change has been wrought, that causes me the difficulties. I was recently in France and will shortly be returning. I have friends born in the Alsace who clearly consider themselves as French, they have seemed unaware of these changes. Does the EU really imagine they can continue to correct what they see as the injustices or errors of history entirely without the knowledge or consent of the people of Europe, many of whom will almost certainly hold contrary views? It seems that they do! I believe when the people finally wake up to these grand plans, explanations will be hard if not impossible to provide. Are we by then to have been rendered not just disenfranchised but mute, unseeing and without remaining ability to grasp at the meaning of events let alone their significance.

The burdens being borne by Europe's people as a result of the Eurocurrency inspired economic decline (see Recession in the EU gains ground) continue to worsen. Are the Germans to gain comfort from the loss of Alsace by France and thus feel their economic hardships less difficult to bear? If so what comfort are the French to draw as their economy also loses momentum and unemployment mounts?

How can the Blair government, when not distracted by its own deepening problems, continue to believe the EU as it now stands can offer any kind of prosperous future or role in the wider world for the people of Britain. Do Kenneth Clarke and Michael Portillo similarly cling to such ridiculous ideas?

Beyond the growing army of those with their snouts embedded deeply in the EU trough, can any still believe in a European dream? If so can they cling to the belief that any decent future, let alone a 'dream one' , can really begin from a starting point that is today's European Union?

posted by Martin at 8/16/2003 11:59:00 AM

A scandal for which 'responsibilty' MUST be assigned

This morning's Daily Telegraph by Robert Uhlig carries the following report Fishermen throw away monkfish millions

The following are selected quotes from the article:-

Trawlermen in Cornwall and Devon are dumping dead and dying fish worth tens of millions of pounds because European conservation legislation is taking no account of particularly abundant cod and monkfish stocks this year.

The discarded fish pollutes the water and the seabed and robs crews of three quarters of their earnings while French fishermen are allowed to fill their nets with fish from West Country waters......

Nevertheless, quotas imposed by the European Commission prevent south-west fishermen landing more than 75kg of cod - less than 20 average fish - every month, while French boats in the same waters are allowed to catch 10 times as much.

So far this year, West Country fishermen have dumped cod and monkfish worth more than £10 million at market and several times more in supermarkets or restaurants.

They are calling for quota extensions to take advantage of this year's bounty. Dumping fish as waste on the seabed is more damaging to stocks and marine ecosystems than allowing trawlers to fish freely.

We do not usually post such long passages from our links, but here we have a truly scandalous situation, made none the less so by the fact that my initial inclination was to pass over the article with the thought 'heard it all before'.

If the facts are exactly as stated then British government ministers have been openly betraying the people of this country for the past thirty years and the facts as to HOW? should be immediately and quickly established (much is already known from the 30 year disclosure rules). The names of those responsible should be published and action should be taken following extensive police inquiries to establish whether their intentions were deliberately treasonable or not. The public can then determine for itself what might have motivated these traitors and better prevent their co-conspirators continuing to sell out the interests of their countrymen.

Any other age of government, even envisioning allowing such a situation to develop, would I feel certain, have known that laws allowing such a legislative goulash to arise would be potentially treasonable and their continuation a knowingly treasonable act. Arguments that sophisticated and delicate negotiations down the years have chanced to produce such a scandal cannot have relevance where the facts are as stated above. Britain's fish are being stolen while our fisheman are compelled by their Government to effectively remain in port, or go to sea to throw back a large part of their catch.

Meanwhile having the fishing boats of a foreign and neighbouring and competitive power free to enter the waters of our not particulalry economically flourishing South West Country and make off with our fish, while our own fisherman, under the orders of their own craven ministers and officials, are compelled under British law to throw back their own fish into our own waters. This cannot be allowed to continue without those responsible being called to account. As a Devonian I feel sure I speak for many from our region when I say: "This has gone far enough"

posted by Martin at 8/16/2003 08:31:00 AM

Friday, August 15, 2003

Tony Martin and John Humphries

I have just heard an interview on the BBC's once worthwhile Today programme. After hearing this it is now no surprise that the Government had seemed intent on keeping the convicted burglar shooter locked up in jail for just as long as they possible could.

Tony Martin exposed Humphries for the jumped-up, self-opinionated kind of prat that his boring and repetitive interviewing style so often makes him appear. Not only that, Martin succeeded by calm and repetitve common sense, refusing at each stage to be interrupted, to put the blame fairly and squarely where it obviously lay - within the ethos for which the BBC is the chief state-funded mouthpiece.

posted by Martin at 8/15/2003 08:34:00 AM

Silly Season Socialism

My thanks to Samizdata. Ernest Young and Bureaucrash for leading me to this amusing link:-

Bureaucrash Pop-Up

posted by Martin at 8/15/2003 08:09:00 AM

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Whither the EU

Steven den Beste, both he and his system having seemingly recovered from their recent problems, has some further thoughts on the EU, which then led us to a previously unvisited blog The Limeybrit which put forward some good counter-arguments.

My fears about the future of the EU centre around the terrible impact moden technology will have on the potential to restrict individual freedoms and activities, particularly within the context of a totally undemocratic pan-european superstate as being created and deliberately targeted in the VGdE constitution. For me it will not be charismatic but totalitarian leaders the people will most have to fear, but the nameless corrupt and secretive corporatists controlling every last detail of the citizens' lives anonymously and with no accountability. With CCTV, Digital ID cards and ever present computer based location devices, the ordinary citizens' FUTURE individual rights are clearly being ignored, and the worst is....they do not seem to care.

The absolute reluctance of those involved in any of the European Pillars to seriously tackle the endemic corruption is one of the main factors allowing such people to cement and augment their power. On the contrary it sometimes appears as if the various EU bodies are involved in some sophisticated game, competing to determine which of those bodies can cream the most from the almost perpetually unaudited budget.

posted by Martin at 8/14/2003 09:40:00 AM

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Bad news for Brown

It looks as though the new Governor of the Bank of England, might have got hold of the idea that he really is independent from the Treasury, which is certainly bad news for our incompetent Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, but more probably and sooner rather than later, for the new Governor Mervyn King:-

.... the new Governor of the Bank of England, yesterday criticised the Government's decision to impose a new inflation target in a move that threatens to open a split between the Bank and Treasury.

He said it was "strange" to have an inflation target that did not include house prices and warned it could be seen as "moving the goalposts".

Mr King also said the Government would miss its optimistic growth forecasts for the next three years, adding to a chorus of doubt over Gordon Brown's economic forecasts.

Personally, however, and strictly as a non-economist, if I wanted to use a statistic showing price rises were no longer that severe a problem, which I assume is Brown's intent, then I think I would leave the property element in.

The main criteria surely is consistency, without that the numbers cease to have meaning....just look at the make up of the Dow Jones, complete nonsense on any long term basis.

posted by Martin at 8/13/2003 09:12:00 PM

"A Giant Leap?"

A breakthrough announcement in EuObserver for the ever more dynamic euroconglomerstate First EU mission to study the moon Now was it only in my imagination that I remember watching Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon's surface in 1969......thirty four years ago last June?

Not only that, the damn thing will take sixteen months to get there and is about the size of a ......well what exactly is one cubic metre, not very big at all I would wager. This is a quote from the press blurb provided by the grand sounding European Space Agency :-

Europe’s first small probe to the moon SMART-1 (Small Mission for Advanced Research in Technology) will start its unique journey on 3 September from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

What in the world (or upon the moon) can be unique about this mission, nothing unique about European taxpayers being ripped off for the increasingly ludicrous grandiloquent plans of their befuddled and committee-bound rulers. The name says it all really, well I mean 'smart one!' - whatever this thing is!..... that it is not!

The real clue that this is an EU project par excellence comes in the tail of the item :-

Initially the mission was supposed to be launched at the end of August, but has been delayed by about six days

posted by Martin at 8/13/2003 08:40:00 PM

Janet Daley cuts to the heart of Gilligan's testimony

In her usual inciseful way the Telegraph columnist gets to the essence of what to date the Hutton inquiry has covered. If Kelly was a liar, why was he a source?

So, thus far, it is the word of one man against another. And one of those men is dead. Even if we take Gilligan's account of their transactions at absolute face value, isn't there a problem with the logic of his defence?

If Dr Kelly lied to the FAC because, as Gilligan puts it, he may have felt that he had to "keep faith" with the Ministry of Defence (and had not intended to discredit the Government), why should we put so much faith in his accuracy as a source for the Gilligan story? Either he is an impeccable, unfailingly reliable witness or he isn't.

Almost everything that Gilligan said about him yesterday implied that, at least under some circumstances, he was not. So in order to defend his own decision to broadcast his story, Gilligan must, in effect, undermine the veracity of his own single source.

If Janet Daley is correct in her assertion that here we have the two most powerful institutions of the British State ranged against one another, this matter obviously requires more attention than, so far, I have felt inclined to give it. I cannot help but find the Taylor dilemma of greater interest however. Read below:-

posted by Martin at 8/13/2003 12:53:00 PM

Pragmatism in International Relations

The scene is being set in West Africa for a fascinating duel between two totally conflicting views as to the conduct of international affairs. According to this report in this morning's Daily Telegraph Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, moved in to a luxury villa in Nigeria yesterday but a bleak high-security compound awaits him in Sierra Leone if war crimes investigators manage to bring him to justice.

If the UN eventually succeeds in bringing Taylor to justice in Sierra Leone, to stand trial on charges of war crimes (terrible it is true, but apparently pretty much the norm in his country over recent decades) then what will become of the rebel successors who might by then be in power themselves in Liberia and probably also guilty of similar behaviour? Worse still how will similar brutal dictators be persuaded to leave their countries and sources of power in the future, if the international forces that persuaded Taylor to leave are seen to go back on their offer of a secure refuge.

The arguments on the other side are less complex if not almost simplistic and therefore superficially attractive, boiling down to the feeling 'war crimes are wrong and should be punished'. Should we not expect a little bit more sophistication in policy making from the international body that is supposed to represent the interests of all mankind.

My gut reaction to these events is that the UN is wrong and I hope they do not succeed. The logic of their argument leads inevitably to world policing and the end of individual liberties and freedoms which history shows, time and again, are best protected on as local as possible a basis, guaranteed by like-minded individuals acting in harmony, something most of us have come to know as the nation state!

The EU is a sinister threat to the democratic rights and liberties of all the peoples of Europe except the Swiss and Norwegians.

The UN seems intent on representing a similar threat to all mankind.

posted by Martin at 8/13/2003 10:19:00 AM

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Good News for Wine Buffs

While it was reported in the EuObserver, but not mentioned here earlier, (why spread gloom in the holiday season?) that Italy, the first of the major euroland economies to report second quarter economic results, was now officially in a recession with others likely to follow, we can now sweeten that news with this from The Independent After a decade of devastation, wine makers celebrate a vintage harvest France and Italy expect a bumper harvest of exceptional quality, while the heat may seem oppressive for years ahead we will be able to savour the 2003 vintage - 'Sante'

posted by Martin at 8/12/2003 11:55:00 AM

Blame the Government

Meanwhile over in France where 50 people are reported to have died from the heat in Paris alone, Le Figaro headline teaches what happens to Governments who pretand they are omnipotent 'Heatwave, the government defends its actions The penalty of appearing to act like God perhaps?

posted by Martin at 8/12/2003 11:47:00 AM

EU regs require Hard Hat for tightrope walker

Thanks to samizdata and bureaucrash for the link to this Ananova item from which this is a flavour:-

Paul Archer, assistant manager of the Moscow State Circus, said: "It is ridiculous. Common sense has clearly gone out of the window

Welcome to the whacky world of the EU, Paul! It makes circus life seem normal!

posted by Martin at 8/12/2003 11:37:00 AM

Germany to support Nato in Iraq

A report from EuObserver gives more signs of rappropchement between Germany and the USA Friends again? With Nato taking over an Afghan operation in Kabul yesterday the French trumpeted role for the new EU European defence force is looking less certain.

The departure of President Charles Taylor from the Liberian capital Monrovia seems at first glance another triumph for the foreign policies of George W Bush and a major set back for the empty posturings of UN sponsored war crime tribunals which could so easily have delayed or even postponed Taylor's departure. Thanks here too for the clear good sense of the Nigerians. It remains to be seen what benefits all this will bring to the Liberian people, perhaps it is in helping to build their future that the UN and its agencies can start to fulfil their proper role and begin to rebuild their reputation so tarnished over the past year.

posted by Martin at 8/12/2003 07:51:00 AM

Monday, August 11, 2003

Straighten your Railways!

Silly season only continues on Ironies, normal service to be resumed when the oppressive heat lifts. This item comes from a brilliantly named web-site for these temperatures Deadbrain which as can be gathered from the title of this post seems to have found an EU Commissioner suggesting that the trouble with Britain's railways in this heat is that they are too bendy:-

after a member of the European Commission was overheard telling a friend in a café that it would be "a good idea" if Britain's railways "weren't so bendy". Loyola de Palacio, the Spanish Vice-President of the Commission, was quoted as saying that "the problem with Britain's railways at the moment is that they aren't straight enough. Maybe if they made them straighter the trains would be able to go faster."

Good point! and hopefully less of them LOL!

For regular readers we suggest quoting this report should only be attempted on 1st April!

posted by Martin at 8/11/2003 08:42:00 PM

Booze up your earnings

A silly season story par excellence to start the week, from the the Daily Telegraph in an article titled Drinkers paid more than teetotallers, survey finds

Moderate drinkers make, on average, 17 per cent more money than abstainers, researchers at Stirling University found.

Around 17,000 people were surveyed for the study, which looked at the relationship between their careers and their drinking habits. It was found that on average drinkers earned £13,780-a-year, nearly £2,000 more than teetotallers.

Interesting, not least for the fact that it was a decent sized sample. Cheers!

posted by Martin at 8/11/2003 10:18:00 AM

Sunday, August 10, 2003


A new term to me that cropped up on a web site called The Inquirer is Flashmobbing. It apparently involves a group of strangers suddenly converging on a particular spot, through the magic of sms messaging, and hopefully doing nothing in particular. I wonder if this might become a future means for ordinary citizens to express concerns against the ever encroaching state. More and more it would seem that it is technology that will ultimately prove the best bulwark against authoritarianism!

posted by Martin at 8/10/2003 10:51:00 AM

Gordon Brown, the EU and the independence of The Bank of England

Vintage stuff from Christopher Booker, this morning in the Telegraph always my first port of call on a Sunday.

The last paragraph from which I quote below gives the flavour but click the link for the full exposure of the myth Gordon has spun into legend. I have never had such a lightning response from such a high level . I almost immediately had calls from both the head of the Treasury press department and a senior official of the Directorate-General II in Brussels, denying that there was any connection between Mr Brown's decision and the treaty. Being still young and green, I took their denials at face value and wrote nothing.

The period between now and the general election will most likely more than adequately disprove the idea that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a competent manager of the nation's finances, with the Bank of England independence "wizard tag" also gone, the emperor in waiting will soon be seen to have no clothes.

posted by Martin at 8/10/2003 10:00:00 AM

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Straws in the wind

This from the George W Bush press conference at the Crawford Texas Ranch, on the contribution of German troops in Afghanistan :-

"Not only is Germany's participation important, it's robust, more robust than we would have anticipated," said Bush. "I look forward to thanking Chancellor Schroeder for that."

We on Ironies were always of the opinion that the new Franco/German counterweight to the USA and brave talk of a new EU core taking on the US was not as actively supported in Berlin as it was in Paris. While French hoteliers are only now beginning to realise that we live in an inter-dependant world (see yesterday's blog), that fact has been clear for months to the German Chancellor and his Green (bring back the deposit on the can please!) Foreign Secretary.

Anybody with some German editions of Kipling for the troops to be deployed? The great poet of empire was sometimes close to his best when writing on Afghanistan; it looks like the German troops are going to need some historic references to cope with the difficulties and ultimate pointlessness of duty beyond the NW frontier. One consolation not available to their Russian and British predecessors, at least they will have the compensation of knowing that if only indirectly they will be helping their country towards a restoration of its temporarily discarded self-pride. Another quote from the news item:-

The government has apparently decided to expand the presence of German soldiers in Afghanistan outside of the capital of Kabul, according to press reports. More than 2,000 German soldiers make up the lion's share of the U.N. International Security Assistance Force, in place since the end of the war. Germany has led the force since February, and will relinquish control to NATO on Monday.

The whole article can be read from this link Germany and Afghanistan

posted by Martin at 8/09/2003 08:47:00 PM

Rural idylls and crumbling cities

An enjoyable and sparkling article by Martin Gayford in the week's The Spectator who on a visit to Siena ponders the reasons for our fondness for visiting places representing past economic failure In love with economic disaster. A thought provoking piece that is highly recommended.

posted by Martin at 8/09/2003 09:05:00 AM

Silly Season Studies

A sometimes chilling and occasionally fiercely optimistic vision of Britain in 2020 has been presented to Labour policymakers, warning of a massive population explosion in the south, an end to the traditional hospital and a continued role for the UK army as peacekeepers in an increasingly unequal world.

That is how an article in today's Guardian forecasts the future for Britain, for which sort of spurious speculation we would normally have neither the time nor inclination to quote here on the blog.....were it not for the wonderful oxymoron the article contains in its third paragraph. Here we are informed by the newspaper that the report was prepared by Liam Byrne, who is then described as a "Labour thinker" now there's a startling thought for a hot summer weekend!

Other than that and perhaps also as a classic example of collectivist central planning idiocy, which is nice to see the Labour Party wasting its money on, it is not worth the read or the bother of further comment.

posted by Martin at 8/09/2003 08:51:00 AM

Friday, August 08, 2003

More Good News

This time from Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports Saudi Arabia Frees Westerners Jailed for Bombings . Any who have tracked even the smallest part of the details of this case cannot but be cheered by this news.

Soon, maybe, the travesty of justice being perpetrated by the UK Independence Party against some of its most faithful and staunchest volunteers might even be rectified, but visiting this site will quickly dispel any optimism brought on by news from the autocratic states of West africa and Saudi Arabia United Kingdom Independence Party Uncovered

posted by Martin at 8/08/2003 08:56:00 PM

A Glimmer of Sense from West Africa

This report from German State Broadcaster Deutsche Welle ECOWAS moves to drop war crimes charges against Liberia's Taylor finally provides a glimmer of hope for the people of Liberia.

Next step the EU and UN abandoning their support for the ICC. If only ! Pigs flying in this heat-wave, could get sunburnt!, so are likely to remain grounded for the time being.

At this rate, one day soon, we might get a BBC report on any one of thousands of topics that actually begins with the words "It seems we were mistaken when we reported...." now that will be the day! In the absence of any sign of unbiased reporting from the Beeb we will continue to monitor the generally factually correct Deutsche Welle as far as news is concerned.

posted by Martin at 8/08/2003 08:32:00 PM

US tourism to France

This from the FT France loses its appeal to tourists of course had they read Ironies over the past few months..... but the last thing the increasingly desperate French tourist authorities want is "I told you so" or another piece of advice for those who are faced with this sitauation:-

Overnight stays by American tourists declined nearly 40 per cent in May compared with last year. Upmarket hotels saw their business with foreign customers tumble 15 per cent year-on-year at the start of the summer, while occupancy rates for the greater Paris region have fallen a full six points to an unhealthy low of 67.4 per cent.

.....Woody Allen while every Frenchman's idea of the ideal American, is no longer Mr Cool back in the USA, recruiting him to salvage the situation was almost as lethal as Dominique de Villepin's posturing at the UN.

Why are the Germans abandoning France as well? This piece also taken from the same article:-

"German tourists have lost their fondness for France," notes the tourism ministry's bleak July report. "Meanwhile, American and Asian visitor numbers have dropped steeply as a result of the Iraq crisis and Sars."

Last we saw on a brief visit there was no deposit yet on canned drinks, which must surely be a plus for the visiting German (see following post)

posted by Martin at 8/08/2003 07:53:00 PM


This article from this morning's Daily Telegraph has so many things to say about the condition we are in its hard to know where to start to comment.

'Germany's tin can law is rubbish, says EC' my first thought on reading the headline was to scoff at the very idea that a nation's rubbish arrangements were a fitting place for the EU bureaucrats to become involved, except that trawling through rubbish rules was possibly a less harmful pursuit than many in which they usually engaged, OK and I did briefly smirk that it was somehow apt and fitting!

Reading into the article, however an impression began to gain strength that here was a country that did need outside bureaucrats to come in and sort out a real mess. But unless this is a silly season story par excellence, it is actually quite serious, not so much regarding this quote:-

The Commission president, Romano Prodi, has written to Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der ordering him to put in place a nationwide collection system for tin cans or face "legal proceedings for breaching EU laws".

Which after all is everyday EU knockabout, but this:-

"This is an upheaval like we haven't seen since World War Two," said Andreas Rose, chairman of the Holsten brewery in Hamburg, which this year will produce 300 million cans fewer than in previous years. "The can in Germany is more or less dead."

Three hundred million cans less Holsten and in this heat! Disaster indeed.

posted by Martin at 8/08/2003 07:42:00 AM

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Rules, What Rules?

France blows a framboise at the growth and stability pact!

France set to smash euro rules

Sometimes the rest of the EU do not seem to appreciate that the EU is a French inspired club, run for the benefit of the French who expect everybody else to obey the rules. As long as the Germans continue to appreciate the incredible favour the French are doing them by agreeing to run everything, pick up the bill in the interim and ensure there is a majority in favour of whatever France proposes then things will be just fine in Euroland!...............as long as,.... but..... this isn't looking good" Comments Spark Debate on Fairness Between Generations" from German Stae Broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

If the youth of Germany are getting fed up with the prospect of supporting the older generation, how soon before they tire of supporting the French eurocrats and growing armies of squanderers that the EU now represents?

Will the Germans ever really accept Jean-Claude Trichet as President of the (effective) Bundesbank, maybe at first....but for eight long years of French deficits and overspending..... I doubt it!. Sell your Euros when you retrun from holiday, unless that is you want a few curiousity items to show your grandchildren.....I have some Ten Shilling Notes!

posted by Martin at 8/07/2003 08:46:00 PM

Good News from Sweden

The following is an extract from this morning's Daily Telegraph on the Euro referendum to be held next month in Sweden:-

Polling group Demoskop said the percentage of those against joining rose from 44pc to 47pc over the past week, while those in favour fell from 34pc to 33pc.

The full article can be reached from this link

Meantime inEuObserver we find this report that the Swedish Parliament might be re-called during the summer recess to debate the looming threat from the EU Constitution:-

According to Moderaterna (Conservatives), calling for an extra parliamentary session is part of the anti-euro strategy - there is a poll on euro membership on 14 September - to create a feeling of insecurity in order to make people vote for what they already know and feel comfortable with, and for keeping the krona, writes Expressen.

It appears that at least the anti-Constitution Swedish forces have a strategy! It rather puts Britain's Conservative Party to shame, where as usual it is only their internal disputes that seem to make it into the newspapers; 'Yeo piles pressure on May with warning over Tory complacency'

posted by Martin at 8/07/2003 06:20:00 AM

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Trichet edges closer to his goal

This report from Euractiv marks another step forward for the extraordinarily ambitious Jean-Claude Trichet who figured so prominently in Bernard Connolly's book The Rotten Heart of Europe and was charged and acquitted over his role in the Credit Lyonnais debacle which does not seem to get a mention in the Euractiv hyperbole on the link.

This item from the report is of interest, however, Following procedures prescribed by article 112 of the Treaty, Trichet must now be confirmed by the Heads of State and Government of the Euro-zone countries at the European Council on 16-17 October in Brussels, after a consultative opinion of the European Parliament, likely to be issued at the 22-25 September plenary session.
so time does remain to prevent this close associate of Valery Giscard d'Estaing getting his hands on one of the EU's main levers of power, for the next eight years, as a result of another Franco-German, closed door stitch-up.

The after-effects of the dirty dealings at the bank for which M. Trichet was responsible rattle on in California Executive Life Insurance may be the more robust checks and balances of the USA will throw up some more interesting details. The following is a quote from the link provided:-

(SACRAMENTO) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today added four associates from former junk bond purveyor Drexel Burnham Lambert to a lawsuit alleging an international conspiracy used to illegally acquire assets held by the state and reap billions of dollars from the State of California and policyholders in the wake of the failure of Executive Life Insurance Co..............

...The complaint alleges that a group of investors led by Altus Finance, an investment subsidiary of Credit Lyonnais, the giant French-owned bank, contracted secretly in August 1991 with a small, financially troubled French auto insurer, MAAF Assurances, and several other small companies to act as "fronts" to conceal the bank's true involvement in the purchase of Executive Life assets.

The secret arrangements hiding the bank's true involvement violated federal banking laws, as well as state insurance laws that prohibit foreign governments from owning California insurance companies. . . .

The complaint states that the deceit cost California an opportunity to reap substantial benefits from the sale of the insurance business and the junk bonds that would have ultimately benefitted Executive Life policyholders and retirees, as well as the state.

The complaint adds that the sale would have been rejected if the Insurance Commissioner had known of the true interests of Black and others with former ties to Drexel, which worked years earlier with Executive Life to amass the company's huge junk bond portfolio.

Pending in federal court in Los Angeles, the complaint alleges violation of California's False Claims Act and state unfair business practices laws.

Additionally, the complaint alleges that the conspiracy constituted a racketeering enterprise under federal civil RICO (Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations) law. . . .

Co-incidentally one of the MEP's who will presumably have an input at the European Parliament consultative opinion stage will be Nigel Farage, United Kingdom Independence Party MEP, whose career before his election for the South East region of the UK, included working both for Drexel Burnham Lambert and Credit Lyonnais.

posted by Martin at 8/06/2003 05:09:00 PM
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