Monday 30 July 2012

Essex County Councillor joins UKIP

Independent Essex County Councillor for Canvey Island, Brian Wood, has joined UKIP.

Cllr Wood will be the first UKIP councillor on Essex County Council which is comfortably controlled by the Tories at the moment.
I have thought long and hard about this and I came to the conclusion that without the support of a credible political party, with realistic aims, policies and plans to achieve them, I can’t get the best results for my constituents. Having studied the wide ranging manifesto being offered by UKIP, I realised that they are the only Party offering a sensible alternative to the ‘spend us into trouble’ Labour Party and the disastrous and rapidly disintegrating Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition. Judging by UKIP’s steadily improving domestic election results, it is clear that the public has also noticed that they are the best hope for Britain.

Friday 27 July 2012

Second place for UKIP in Norfolk

UKIP candidate Denis Crawford came second in a by-election in Harling & Heathlands, Norfolk yesterday.

The Tories retained the seat with 56.3%, UKIP were second with 22.9% and the Labour candidate came last with 21% of the vote.

It's no longer unusual for UKIP to win a by-election, normal for UKIP to come second or third and rare to finish fourth or worse. The only thing standing between UKIP and national electoral success are vested interests and good old inertia.

New UKIP Councillor elected

UKIP's newest councillor is Kenny Davis who won a by election yesterday for a vacant seat on Northam Town Council.

Cllr Davis won with 37% of the vote followed by an Independent on 33% and the Tory candidate bringing up the rear on 29%.

Turnout for the election was 18.87% which is about right for a parish or town council by-election.

Well done Cllr Davis and well done voters of Northam for choosing the right candidate!

Opinium puts UKIP ahead of Lib Dems again

Polling company Opinium has UKIP ahead of the Lib Dems once again  has UKIP ahead of the Lib Dems once again, not that you'd know from their headline voting intentions which list Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems and Other Parties.

Labour are out front with 40%, the Tories are second with 30%, UKIP are third with 9.49% and the Lib Dems in fourth on 8.85%.

David Cameron is the only LibLabCon party leader that commands the support of the majority of his party with 72% of Tories approving of his record so far against just 42% for Ed Miliband and a rather pathetic 24% for Nick Clegg.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Windmill subsidies to be reduced by 10%

The British government is knocking 10% off the taxpayer subsidy for windmills, citing increased efficiency with the technology as a major reason for doing so.

In 2008 the windmill industry was forced to admit that they had overstated the efficiency of their cash cows by about 100% but the subsidies continued regardless and nobody was prosecuted for their misleading adverts or obtaining taxpayers' money by deception.

UKIP MEP, Paul Nuttall, says that the 10% cut is laughable and that subsidies for windmills should be scrapped altogether. I can't find fault with that argument.  The subsidies are paid (in part) by a "green" tax applied to every gas and electricity bill.  Whether you're a millionaire or one of the thousands of elderly and vulnerable people who die every winter as a result of fuel poverty, we all pay the windmill tax so that multi-national corporations and rich landowners can blight the landscape with their inefficient, ineffective windmills. It's immoral.

Windmills have a place in micro-generation where householders and companies erect very small windmills in their gardens or at their premises to produce a small amount of electricity for their own consumption.  For community groups or organisations like the Scouts who have buildings that are empty for days on end, producing and storing a small amount of electricity for personal consumption makes sense provided that the necessary equipment can be purchased and maintained at a low enough cost not to require a taxpayer subsidy to pay for it.

Where windmills don't have a place is the national grid.  They are hugely expensive to make, they are hugely expensive to erect, they are hugely expensive to connect to the national grid and they are hugely expensive to maintain.  The huge expense wouldn't be a problem if they produced enough electricity to cover these costs, let alone make a profit, but they are a financial black hole that will swallow up taxpayers' money from the day they are made to the day they are decommissioned.  I was in Abergele at the weekend and saw the multitude of windmills that have been thrown up in the bay at Pensarn - every single one of them motionless, producing zero electricity but burning taxpayers money.  This is the future of electricity production in the UK unless the global warming scam is stopped in its tracks.

Conservation and common sense environmentalism make perfect sense but the organisations that used to lead in that field have willingly allowed the global warming con merchants to take over their cause.  When the global warming gravy train is finally derailed they will all suffer long term pain for their short term gain.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Miliband dismisses calls for EU referendum

Ed Miliband has dismissed an EU referendum out of hand during a visit to speak to French socialist MPs.

UKIP welcomes all Labour supporters let down by Miliband on a referendum

Lord Stoddart obtains eurozone guarantee figures

Independent eurosceptic Labour peer, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, has got some interesting information out of the Treasury on how much of our money the British government have committed to bailing out the €urozone.

In a response to a written question from Lord Stoddart, the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Sassoon revealed the following figures:

  • The Bank of England has deposited €2bn with the EU Investment Bank and has promised a further €35.7bn in guarantees
  • The British government has committed €1.6bn towards a €10bn increase in the EU Investment Bank's capital
  • The UK's share of the €60bn EU Financial Stability Mechanism fund is €8.7bn
Assuming or guaranteeing the liabilities of other EU member states is illegal under EU law but that would be a bit inconvenient when they want to shovel more and more money into the black hole that is the €urozone so they just ignore the fact that it's illegal and carry on regardless.

German credit rating drops below Isle of Man

The international credit rating agency, Moody's, has put the German, Dutch and Luxembourgish economies on a negative outlook which threatens their AAA ratings.

Deutschland, Deutschland,
unter Insel Man
France and Austria have already been hit with negative outlooks from Moody's earlier this year.

The only countries left in Europe with a stable AAA rating are the Isle of Man, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.  Norway, Switzerland and the Isle of Man aren't members of the EU and the only €urozone country that has kept its AAA rating without a negative outlook is Finland which is hardly surprising given that Finland is the only €urozone country that has opposed fiscal union and bailing out Greece.

The latest effective downgrades from Moody's are in response to the increasing inevitability of the need to bail out Spain which will bankrupt even Germany.  As Spanish Treasury Minister, Cistobal Montoro, said in June: Spain can't be rescued.

Third Bradly Stoke Tory defects to UKIP

A third Conservative councillor on Bradley Stoke town council has defected to UKIP.

Former Mayor of Bradley Stoke, Councillor Ben Walker, defected in May along with fellow councillor, Ed Rose citing bullying within the local Conservative Party and poor policy decisions nationally as reasons for defecting.

Councillor Kim Harris gives the failure to deal with immigration, benefit reform and punishing small business owners as reasons for leaving the Tories and joining UKIP.

The make-up of Bradley Stoke Town Council is now 11 Tories, 3 UKIP and one vacancy.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

The gay marriage debate rumbles on. Yesterday, a well-argued  paper by Policy Exchange was published, which I would recommend to anyone interested in the subject to read for a good summary of the arguments in favour of the change. Policy Exchange put together a reasonably strong case, arguing in essence that a redefinition of civil marriage would prove helpful to gay people and would not affect heterosexual attitudes to marriage. On the other hand, many Libertarian's, including some in UKIP, take the view that it is not the states business to define marriage at all or to favour one lifestyle over another. 

However neither case that is entirely convincing. Unlike Policy Exchange and my fellow blogger Stuart Parr who has argued previously on this blog in favour of gay marriage, it is my belief that gay marriage is profoundly wrong, because any marginal extension of the institution to gay people is more than offset to the likely damage to marriage generally in the long term.

Lets accept for the moment the assurances - which in fact I gravely doubt - that Churches will not be affected by the legislation, and that the role of the Christian religion in our national life will not be affected. Let us also ignore the rather sinister and arrogant assumption of government that it should seek to redefine words that belong to the common culture. Let us also ignore the potentially serious constitutional questions. Instead, let us employ empirical reasoning and weigh in the balance those likely to gain from it against those likely to lose from the measure.

On the plus side, there is the gay community itself. Statistical estimates vary, but that last ONS survey suggested that only 1.5% of the country is homosexual. It must be said that other estimates in the past have been considerably higher, but the ONS figure is close to the proportion of civil partnerships  to marriages registered  each year (6,385 vs. c.280,000 in 2010). Moreover, polls show the gay community itself is divided on the issue, does not regard on the whole the legislation as a priority and is in part cynical regarding the motivations behind it. The number of people who will directly benefit from the measure, or who feel that existing civil partnerships legislation discriminates against them, is therefore minimal.

One the negative side, there are the likely affects on marriage, and all that entails for society. By itself, I largely accept that gay marriage is not likely to affect things greatly, although it is disingenuous to say it will have no affect at all. Marriage as it stands is not, as the Lynne "Featherbrain" Featherstone states "and expression of love" between two people, but primarily the union of a man and a woman for the procreation of children. Of course not all marriages are child-bearing, but that is the expected default. Gay marriages, as they are less likely to  involve child-rearing, will skew the understanding to a more shallow, adult-centric view of the institution based on human gratification rather than duty. A definition, of course, more in-tune with the narcissistic culture of Metropolitan Liberals who are far more enthusiastic promoters of gay marriage than homosexuals themselves are. Still, marriage would still be understood as union between two people, so the effect in itself on mainstream heterosexual behaviour is not likely to be all that great.

 The 'Slippery Slope' Fallacy Fallacy

Instead, the major argument against civil gay marriage is in essence the classic 'slippery slope' one: namely that, once changed to accommodate homosexuals,  marriage will be  opened for further redefinition on the basis of equality. This is precisely what has already happened in some jurisdictions that have legalised gay marriage: for instance, Mexico is now considering temporary marriages.

Advocates of gay marriage such as Policy Exchange rightly state such arguments have always been made against change. Indeed they have, but that does not invalidate all such arguments. For example, our entry into the European Economic Community, as it then was, was very clearly seen by some as a 'slippery slope' towards substantial loss of sovereignty, and so it proved.

A 'slippery slope' argument against a given change is valid where there is a strong likelihood that the change, whether or not in is itself desirable, will create significant momentum towards greater change that is undesirable. So, we are left with two questions: 1) will gay marriage results in momentum for further change? 2) is that change likely to be benign or malign?

In answer to the first question, it would appear very likely that in Britain the redefinition of marriage to include homosexual unions would result in pressure for further change. At the moment, the 'core culture' argument against the redefinition of marriage can just about be maintained: namely that this is a country with Christian traditions and a Protestant Constitution, and the word has a strong understanding within that culture. It should therefore not be changed by government diktak. Once you negate that argument on the basis of equality in order to placate a given minority, it will be much harder to resist further change on the same basis, and it seems reasonable that other minorities will follow suite. The major pressure for further redefinition is likely to come from Islam, which allows a man to marry up to four wives. (Some Islamic schools of thought also allow for temporary marriages.)

Even the authors of the Policy Exchange paper on gay marriage accept that changes to allow polygamy would have malign consequences. Polygamy is known to lead to significant social problems such as greater violence in society, as well as poorer bonds and outright feuding within the family unit. However, they argue that these truths will allow a rational defence against further redefinition of marriage away from monogamy to be made.

But the great weakness of their position is that it  is an intellectual argument, not a political one. Like it or not, Muslims form a powerful demographic in many areas of the country and the Labour Party in particular can not ignore the Muslim vote if it is to re-elected to office. Calls for legalising polygamy in Britain have already been made by Muslim pressure groups as early as the year 2000. Higher Muslim birth rates and immigration will only increase the political power of Islam in the years ahead.  Always assertive in putting forward it's case, nevertheless political Islam may continue to accept a definition of marriage based on Christian precepts, a religion for which it has considerable respect. However, it beggars belief to suggest that it will be anything like as willing to accept a situation in society where what Allah and The Prophet decreed concerning marriage is deemed inferior to homosexual marriage. And it will be a very brave and principled politician who, when standing for election in a constituency where the Muslim vote is vital and faced with calls to legitimise polygamy on the basis of cultural equality, tells them so. In the longer term, it will make sense for the Political Class to accommodate Muslim demands. Those who scoff at this as mere scare-mongering should first pause and reflect at just how willing our politicians have been in the past to placate or at least turn a blind eye from socially highly destructive Islamic cultural practices in the past.

If polygamy is legalised, then clearly polyandry - the right of women to marry more than one husband - will follow on the basis of equality. Likewise a bisexual could justly claim that their sexuality is discriminated against and they should be able to marry a combination of men and women.  In the very long term, it would likely that the meaning of marriage will be diluted to encompass all sorts of arrangements. As a consequence, it  would mean that for all but the deeply religious marriage will be perceived as  a 'pic 'n' mix" of different lifestyles, all equally valid.

The Weakness of the Libertarian Case on Marriage

All this brings us to the main Libertarian arguments in favour of marriage redefinition. Many Libertarians would argue on principle that people should be able to enter into any arrangements they wish to and presumably call them what they wish as well, and that government should have no role whatsoever in the matter: gay marriage is thus a step for liberty.

But such an argument is shallow and unimaginative. It ignores the fact that monogamous heterosexual marriage is by far the best and most stable environment known for the bringing up of children. Battered by divorce and the rise in cohabitation as it certainly is, marriage as it is currently defined remains a powerful totem in our society.   Purist Libertarians, who are usually very bright individuals but often somewhat blinkered in their thinking, signally fail to understand that inherited social constructs and traditions such as marriage act as especially vital pointers for the less able in society. Such people sadly often lack the imagination to see the likely consequences of different lifestyle choices in the same way a highly-educated Metropolitan Liberal  can, and also usually have fewer financial resources at their command to recover from making serious mistakes.

It is, of course, children who are usually most damaged by mistakes in lifestyle choices made by adults. As children have no control over the environment into which they are born, it is the duty of the state to promote adult living arrangements that maximises their welfare. It is also in the state's interest to promote arrangements which will minimise the impact on wider society of social problems that stem from family breakdown such as delinquency. The state therefore has both a powerful incentive and responsibility to promote the current definition of marriage as a model.

No doubt many would see this as a patronising, paternalistic argument. It is also a realistic one.

"The Sky Hasn't Fallen In" Myth

Lastly, many advocates of gay marriage state that the fears of those against change are disproven because in those jurisdictions where gay marriage has been introduced, social disaster has not swiftly followed.

And nor will it - for now. Instead, cultural changes  will take place over the very long term, and will take equally long to reverse, if indeed they are reversible at all.

People forget that to some extent we have been here before: from the 1960s onwards, it became highly fashionable in middle-class Liberal circles to suggest that marriage was an outmoded anachronism and that all lifestyles were equal for the bringing up of children. These ideas were initially treated with incredulity but nonetheless, they slowly became accepted in society and filtered down to the more socially conservative working-class communities.

It took decades for the sky to fall in, but in the end the downgrading of marriage to just another lifestyle choice was shown to have resulted in utter disaster, as extensive review of the data by the Centre For Social Justice has shown. Cohabitation and divorces rates spiraled in poorer communities whereas, ironically, middle-class communities, some of which had initially championed the modish liberal approach, were much less affected. As a result, poor areas experienced rocketing crime rates, increasing health problems  and much poorer educational standards. Not surprisingly, the collapse of marriage in poorer areas became a major factor in declining social mobility and poverty. Granted, the decline of marriage amongst the poor was in part driven by powerful economic trends in society, such as the decline of well-paid blue-collar employment for men,  but the change in perception of the value of marriage certainly played a large part. 

Now, instead of promoting the value of marriage to society in order to reverse these malign trends, the Metropolitan elite obsesses about it's redefinition to a far greater extent than gay people do themselves, even though doing so risks completely destroying the meaning of the term and it's value to society . The redefinition of marriage to include homosexual couples may well be emancipating for a small number of people in the short term, but in the very long term there is significant risk that it damages  far, far more people than it helps. It is also unclear how, once enacted, such changes could ever be reversed. 

Overall, it is a risk that is simply not worth the candle. And if that risk does come to be realised, then not for the first time the ordinary people of this country will pay a high price for the narcissism and selfishness of a Metropolitan elite who will largely unaffected by the huge cultural changes they have inflicted upon others.

Thursday 5 July 2012

Should UKIP aim to destroy the Conservative Party?

Previously I have argued that the rise of UKIP represents the long-term de-merging of the classical "19th Century" liberal and conservative strands of thought within the Conservative Party, artificially conflated as they were after Liberal Party splits in the early 20th Century and held together by the threat of Socialism thereafter. There is some evidence for this analysis, most notably the number of libertarians joining Young Independence, who may drag UKIP in a progressively more  Libertarian direction in future. 

Shorn of it's Thatcherite minority, in such a scenario the Conservative Party would return to being properly "conservative", in the sense of defending what Burke called "the organic state" and, in Peelite expression, of using power for 'reforming ills while conserving the good'.

However, this leads to another question. Namely, is the dominant tradition within the Conservative Party today "Tory" rather than "conservative"?  If so, does the Conservative Party really deserve to continue to exist at all, and can it even survive? Should, therefore,  the ultimate aim of UKIP be to destroy and replace the Conservative Party?

To analyse these questions it is necessary to go back  to the formation of the modern Conservative Party. It's antecedent, the original "Tory" Party grew out of the English Civil War. Essentially reactionary, it was made up of people  who wished to preserve the status quo, largely to their own advantage. The more sophisticated - and altogether more noble - "conservative" tradition emerged later between  the end of the 18th and early 19th Centuries.

The major problem for the Conservative Party is, of course, that older and more cynical Tory tradition never really died, and has always remained a powerful force within the party. Unsurprisingly, when 'reforming the ill' clashed with Tory vested interests, as happened most notably under Sir Robert Peel and repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, a major party split ensued. However, for much of the Conservative Party's later history,  it has proved perfectly possible to reconcile the two traditions. Consequently it has proved difficult to know which tradition actually had the upper hand and the true motives - noble or cynical -  behind Conservative Party policies. 

But all that was before the European Union arrived on the scene. The reason that "Europe" is such a toxic issue for the Conservative Party is that not only does it directly pit the Tory lust for power and position against the conservative, Burkean tradition in a way that no other issue can, but it has proved impossible for the party to ignore. 

And, sadly,  Europe has illuminated for us in bright, neon capitals that it is the cynical Tory tradition that is dominant within the Conservative Party.  At every juncture, despite principled objections from true conservatives, the Tory faction has won out, with ever more sovereignty lost and national institutions ever more damaged. The consequences to the Conservative Party itself have proved nothing short of disastrous: over the last 20 years, the increasing revulsion felt by activists with the "Tory" nature of it's leadership has lead to the haemorrhaging of membership and fuelled the rise of UKIP. It can be argued that this process will lead to the Conservative Party entering a death-spiral, as the cynical and unappealing face of an ever more dominant Toryism within the party makes it less and less electable. Arguably these effects are already apparent under the Prime Ministership of the very Tory David Cameron, with his advocacy of coalition government policies such as gay marriage, the replacement of the House of Lords (not 'reform' as is so disingenuously claimed) and destruction of the Armed Forces: all policies which could never remotely be called "conservative" and profoundly alienating to much of the electorate, particularly the Conservative Party core vote.

So where does leave UKIP? If the Conservative Party is weakening and both it's activist and voting base increasingly up for grabs, where should we pitch ourselves in order to achieve our ends? Should we seek to inherit the mantle of the classical liberal right wing, become essentially libertarian in outlook, and leave the mainstream "conservative" tradition struggling within the Tory-controlled Conservative Party? The advantage of this strategy is that UKIP can be philosophically more coherent and a fount of radical new Libertarian ideas, although unlikely ever to wield power except as a minority partner in a coalition. However, by 'pissing in' rather than 'pissing out'  of the Conservative Party tent, we would probably be more effective than the Conservative Party right-wing currently is in promoting Libertarian policies.

Alternatively, should we go the whole hog and seek to acquire both the classical  liberal and conservative strands, destroying and replacing the Conservative Party in the process?  The advantage of this option is that it would hopefully weaken the thoroughly malign Tory tradition of power at any price which has so disfigured our politics, and at the same time keep the Right of British politics united. It isn't outlandish to claim that, following a complete Conservative Party collapse, one day we may even get to form a government ourselves.

What is not in doubt is that huge opportunities are opening up for UKIP that may see us break through as a major political force and our response to them will define the future identity of our party in the decades to come. 

Monday 2 July 2012

Vince Cable describes EU referendum as "horribly irrelevant"

Vince Cable has responded to David Cameron's vague suggestion that an EU referendum might not be entirely out of the question as long as everyone votes Tory and he gets to ask the right question to get the right answer by describing an EU referendum as "horribly irrelevant at a time of upheaval taking place in Europe".

Let us know if you find out Vince
Wee Willy Vague said that that there may be a "powerful case" for an EU referendum but we can't have one until the EU has decided what it wants to do about turning itself into a country.

Labour's shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, said that Cameron's comments mean he is weak whilst Liam Fox said "life outside the EU holds no terror".

Up to 100 Tory MPs are apparently demanding Cameron passes a law to force the British government to hold an EU referendum after the next election.  Presumably these MPs are aware of the constitutional principal that no parliament can bind its successor, rendering any such law completely useless.  They were no doubt aware that the already useless EU Bill which contains the so-called referendum lock also can't bind the next parliament and isn't worth the paper it was written on.

If the Tories really are serious about honouring their many promises for an EU referendum then it needs to be held in this parliament.  The Tories won't win the next election, even with a Cast Iron Guarantee™ of an EU referendum so it's now or never.  If these 100 Tory MPs demanding a referendum are serious about it then one of them needs to grow a pair and put in a private members bill now or show us how important their principles are by defecting to UKIP and getting our low tax, small state, pro-independence agenda into Westminster where it belongs.

As for Vince Cable's statement that an EU referendum is "horribly irrelevant", I think most people would consider jetting around the world to get agreement to change the law simultaneously in 16 countries to give "equal rights" to female heirs to the throne was "horribly irrelevant".