Tuesday 25 September 2012

UKIP members being targeted by possible scam

UKIP members are being warned of a potential scam involving phone calls from an overseas number from someone claiming to be a UKIP official and suggesting they join a new political party.

A "New Referendum Party" has been phoning UKIP members claiming to be a UKIP branch official, urging them to jump ship to this new party.  The "New Referendum Party" hasn't been identified but co-incidentally a new single issue referendum party was launched by former UKIP MEP, Nikki Sinclaire, last week.  Whether she is behind this is unknown at this time.

The fact that the telephone number being used to contact these members is an overseas number would suggest that whoever is behind it is either trying to avoid Data Protection laws or is operating a scam and as Sinclaire is still, to the best of our knowledge, under investigation for alleged expenses fraud you would expect her to steer clear of anything dubious such as this.  Either way, whoever is behind this aren't the sort of people you would be advised to entrust with your personal or financial details!

If any members are concerned that they may have been tricked into parting with personal details or money by someone falsely claiming to representing the party then they should speak to the police.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Conference - Final Day

No live blogging from conference today - more people are interested in Twitter so follow @Bloggers4UKIP and the #UKIPConf hashtag.

Friday 21 September 2012

Conference 2012 Live Blogging

Party Chairman, Jeremy Titford has taken the stage. Why is Cameron building a new railway (HS2] when existing routes are so under used?

Titford likens politicians' refusal to leave the EU with Pompeii - rocks fell on their heads, they stayed put.

Jeremy Titford introduces Michael Heaver, UKIP's social media guru. "Social media is like the would've biggest pub but without the booze". Says social media is great for democracy, let's ordinary people have their say.

Heaver says the top video on YouTube for "Barosso" is Nigel Farage laying into him with 99,000 views. The second one is an EU produced video with just 55 views.

Former radio DJ Mike Read is up next. "What a fantastic turnout for the UK's third party". He's proud to be a member of UKIP because the part stands for something, has a great leader in Nigel Farage. "If the EU is the answer, what the hell was the question"? UKIP is the party of the people for the people, we believe in ourselves. Chariots of Fire plays while Olympic competitors are shown on screen as a reminder of what we can do as a country.

Godfrey Bloom MEP takes the stage to talk about Police and Crime Commissioner elections. The Home Office is, he says, institutionally politically correct. "Prison does work", says crime prevention is the reason the police exists. As Police Commissioner crime stats won't be fudged, training will be reviewed, partnerships will be reviewed, police will be encouraged to use discretion, "motorists are not public enemy number one".

Bloom says everyone will receive full protection of his police force regardless of their colour or religion, you won't get to the top.of the queue. Any police officer arresting someone for protecting their home from burglars will be on disciplinary procedures.

Godfrey introduces Michael Spearman, his running man and former police officer of many years' experience.

Former Conservative Future star, Alexandra Swann, takes to the stage and explains how the Tories see their younger members as a liability and disregard their views unlike UKIP. David Cameron pretends to be a Conservative but he believes in high taxes. National debt now stands at £40I per household. It's not all about the Tories, she says Labour have abandoned the working class and their leader makes Van Rompuy look charismatic. The Lib Dems betrayed students and lie about policies. UKIP is the only party with a credible economic policy. UKIP believes in real localism and personal freedom. UKIP believes in more than freedom.from the EU, they believe in freedom of the individual.

Swann says everyone wants to get out of the EU, we need to show people we have the policies to fix the country.

Sanya-Jeet Thanks takes the stage next, highlights the growing youth wing of the party. "Mr Osbourne you are wrong" - says a Commonwealth free trade agreement is good for the economy. The Commonwealth is 15%of the global economy and a quarter of its population. EU membership stops us trading effectively with the rest of the world. The EU needs us more than we need them, we will continue to trade with them and be able to trade with the rest of the world. India is expected to be the world's largest economy by 2050. We are missing out on so much potential from the Commonwealth. We have more cultural ties with the Commonwealth than the EU. "The best way to heal old wounds is to forge new bonds".

First speaker after break is Lord Hesketh. Thinks a lot of Nigel Farage, the only leader of a political party not party of the political establishment. Disparaging comments of the EU Court of Human Rights which is as dangerous as the Luftwaffe. "Our enemy is the establishment". Three EU countries have unelected governments, predicts a continent wide revolution. Lord Hesketh says in defence we have to make use of what we've got - scrap Trident, buy more submarines and arm them with nuclear warheads. The French high speed rail network has only one profit-making route, it's a waste of taxpayers money.

Lord Hesketh introduces Nigel Farage to a standing ovation who then goes on to introduce three new councillors defecting to UKIP and Lord Stevens who became the third UKIP per this week.

Lord Stevens lists broken promises from the LibLabCon parties on the EU. Lord Stevens suggests defecting Tories being described as fruitcakes and loonies might want to rejoin once we're out of the EU which is meet with some uneasy murmurs. EU commissioners and staff can lose their pensions for disloyalty to the EU. Trade with the EU is 6% of the UK's GDP, the EU is only 12% of world GDP.  The Lisbon Treaty says any country leaving the EU can negotiate a free trade agreement so they won't stop trading with us. "UKIP is not, as we know, a one policy party".

Nigel Farage returns to the stage to recap on recent success and future potential. We'll fight the next election with a full manifesto. We've been lucky with our enemies - Cameron's cast iron guarantee, Clegg on tuition fees, Miliband who doesn't want to say anything. We're not a one trick pony but we won't ignore the EU issue. Barosso has used the "F" word for the first time (Federation), as has Van Rompuy. EU foreign ministers are drafting a new treaty to "transfer our national democracy". Barosso has described Farage as an "extreme populist" and says UKIP and parties like it are irrelevant to the EU. We will make him east those words.

Farage says we will have to have a referendum on this new draft treaty, not even the Tories and Labour would vote for it. He says the LibLabCon are uniting behind a position of being on the periphery of a political EU which is a bad thing. He backs the idea of a Commonwealth free trade agreement. We have 22% youth unemployment, it is irresponsible to open or borders to the whole of eastern Europe. It's time for a referendum on membership of the EU.

We are a full political party but if an opportunity arises to get independence then we'd be silly not to consider it. Talk of a deal with the tories hadn't come from us, it's come from members of the Conservatives. Before we consider a deal with the Tories we'll want a promise of a referendum not as a cast iron guarantee but in blood.

Professor Tim Congdon is the first speaker after lunch. He intends to make his analysis of the cost of EU membership an annual publication. He says the cost is about 10%of GDP. The cost of membership is about £5k per household. The cost of free trade for Norway and Switzerland is about £750. These are net costs, remember.

As a result of EU Common Fisheries Policy £500m of fish is thrown away every year. Deep down the question is are we going to be governed by ourselves or are we going to be governed by foreigners from Brussels? We are facing the biggest challenge faced by the independence movement in the 20 years it's existed.

Paul Nuttall tells us he and Godfrey Bloom met the Welsh Government's EU Minister in Brussels who they engaged in conversation, finding he didn't know what an EU Directive actually was.

Tim Aker says that he thought 1984 was a warning not an instruction book. Touches on Barosso's federation speech, calls him a Plonker to much amusement. In a nutshell the EU is unreformable. The USA has a free trade agreement with the EU but no MEPs so why not us? We can leave and reclaim our empty World Trade Organisation seat that the EU has replaced. Common theme with all speakers is a Commonwealth free trade area.

Paul Nuttall returns to the podium and again mentions a Commonwealth free trade area. He introduces True Finns leader, Timo Soini.

Soini says he's a bit of an Anglophile and he's glad to be at another UKIP conference. Across the EU eurosceptics are criticised by europhiles who "stumble over truth". It seems Soini is a bit of a Thatcher fan too. Great parody of Barosso which gets a laugh - "where there is hope let us sow despair". Only two years ago Finnish politicians were telling them the euro is a success but they wouldn't hold a referendum. How many problems have the europhiles fixed? None. He calls them conceited pillocks which gets laughter and applause. He says they don't know what to do or to be more precise they don't know what Barosso and Van Rompuy will let them do. Monetary union isn't about money, it's about power.

"When I bring you greetings from the Eurozone I have only one thing to say - keep the pound". The cost of bailing out Eurozone countries is about €7,400 for each Finnish citizen. Wants to keep ties between UKIP and True Finns.

Paul Nuttall introduces Roger Bootle from Capital Investments who won an award for the best paper on withdrawal from the euro. When did things go wrong for the euro? "Right from the beginning". Bootle suggests the failure of the euro was expected and intentional because what it's happening now would never get past voters. "The Eurozone is an economic disaster" - it's weak and the reason is because of a lack of competitiveness and too much debt. The Germans have been living off the deficits of the southern states, it's like the relationship between China and the west. If the euro survives Europe will be mired in depression for decades, "thank goodness we're out of it".

Paul Nuttall announces that he will be on Any Questions tonight and with that conference closes for the day.

Conference Day Two

National Conference 2010

Main Day

We will be live blogging from conference today and we have a pre-conference meet-up at the Starbucks across the square from Birmingham Town Hall.

Thursday 20 September 2012

Conference Day One

National Conference 2012

Training Day

We will be live blogging from day two and three of the conference at Birmingham Town Hall.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Why Things Never Looked Better for UKIP

Lord Stevens couldn’t have timed his defection to UKIP better as a number of events are simultaneously occurring which should bring the Party even closer than it already is to unprecedented political success.  

First, consider the creation by Nikki Sinclaire of a new eurosceptic party. At first glance this might seem like a negative development as it may split the Eurosceptic vote. However, the birth of the We Demand a Referendum Party is undoubtedly a blessing in disguise.

Think of all the UKIP members who do more harm than good to the Party. Those who’ve caused the party to rack up huge legal fees, waged unnecessary wars on the leadership and those who go out of their way to ensure the party gets bad publicity. Who would be in that list? Surely it’s people like Nikki Sinclaire, the writers of Junius, Greg L-Watkins etc. These are exactly the kind of people who will be vacating UKIP and busying themselves with this doomed political venture.

And, while the prospect of the eurosceptic vote being split may seem scary, it is in fact a very small one. Once the tiny initial fanfare in the media the new party has generated fizzles away, it will be unlikely to gain much press coverage at all.

Consider this too: at the last European Elections there were numerous Eurosceptic parties on the ballot papers including No2EU, Libertas and the BNP. They all did pants compared to UKIP which famously beat the governing Labour Party to second place.

Second, UKIP is riding success in the polls in the build-up to elections where UKIP has the chance to reap real rewards.  The general picture is that UKIP continues to hover around the ankles of the Libdems and there is growing disillusionment among the public with the two main parties.

Third, and finally, UKIP members should embrace the much needed revamping of UKIP’s image. There is simply no question that at least some rebranding is a necessary part of winning an election. UKIP’s pound logo is tired and old now. In the 21st Century political parties, and notably successful ones, constantly rebrand themselves, and this is not necessarily a bad thing so long as it does not lead to party policy being diluted.

In summary, UKIP is in a stronger position than ever before. And, after all, this is a political party that has gone from 4,383 votes in its first contested General Election to well over 920,000 in its last. With the real fruitcakes and gadflies of British euroscepticism leaving to form their own party, things have never looked better.

Julien Conway tweets at @julienconway

Monday 17 September 2012

Lord Stevens of Ludgate defects to UKIP

Conservative peer, Lord Stevens of Ludgate, has today defected to UKIP.

Baron Ludgate was Chairman of Express Newspapers in the 90s and says that he has given up hope of David Cameron doing anything eurosceptic.

UKIP now has three members in the House of Lords with Lord Stevens of Ludgate joining former leader, Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Lord Willoughby de Broke.

Former UKIP MEP launches vote-splitter party

Former UKIP MEP, Nikki Sinclaire, has announced her intention to form a new political party to contest EU elections.

Saint Nikki of Meriden, as she is also known, caused mayhem in UKIP when she declared war on Nigel Farage using members as cannon fodder and allegedly encouraging a young member of staff to misuse UKIP membership lists to create fictitious accounts on the members' forum to post pro-Nikki and anti-Farage comments.  In the end, she had the whip removed and was banned from using the UKIP name.  She was expelled from the party but sued to have the expulsion overturned and due to a clerical error, UKIP's defence wasn't submitted in time and she was awarded a default judgement and allowed to rejoin.

Sinclaire of course has no hope of being elected as an independent MEP, hence forming her own political party.  She still has very little chance of being elected but may dilute the eurosceptic vote enough as the fake eurosceptics in Libertas and No2EU did in the last EU election to allow the vote-splitting Tories to scrape by ahead of UKIP, setting back the eurosceptic cause.

There is no denying that Nikki has done some fantastic campaigning against the EU and she did some great things in UKIP but there is no cause more important to Nikki Sinclaire as Nikki Sinclaire.  It's understandable that she would want to protect her political and financial future but for someone who pontificated on putting the cause before your own interests when she was still a UKIP MEP, it's pretty hypocritical to launch a rival political party that can only damage the eurosceptic cause.  On the plus side, it's grounds for kicking her out of the party that not even an experienced litigator such as Saint Nikki can sue their way out of.

Farage loses appeal against damp rag fine

Nigel Farage has predictably lost his appeal against the fine unelected President of the EU Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, gave him for calling Herman Van Rumpy-Pumpy a damp rag.

The ruling that his appeal was inadmissible was based on a technicality and he is now considering an appeal to the EU Court of Justice - the parent court to the EU general court that made made today's ruling.  He is arguing that it is a matter of free speech and that he should have immunity in the EU Parliament as all the crooks, con artists, communists and Nazis do.
It is vital that the freedom of speech of all elected members be upheld in parliament. Freedom of speech is not just for supporters of the EU's political union.
Sadly the damp rag tea towels that were being sold in honour of Farage's altercation with the wet brussel sprout are out of stock but I'm sure more could be made if there was enough call for them.

Tories steal UKIP "Britdisc" policy

The Tories have recycled yet another UKIP policy as their own - this time the Britdisc policy that would see foreign-registered lorries charged a licence fee to drive on our roads.

The idea behind the Britdisc was to combat road and fuel tax avoidance by large hauliers, to keep dangerous foreign-registered lorries off the road and to remove some of the unfair advantage foreign hauliers have over UK-based operators.

It seems the Tories have finally cottoned on to the obvious unfairness in the system and decided to adopt UKIP's solution to grab a positive headline.  The EU will rule it illegal of course but the Tories will have hopped onto another headline-grabbing bandwagon by then.

Kettering Tory cabinet member defects to UKIP

UKIP has claimed another scalp from the Tories, this time in the form of Councillor Jonathan Bullock, until today a member of Kettering Borough Council's ruling Tory cabinet.

Cllr Bullock wrote much of Kettering Conservatives' manifesto and says that he will remain committed to it as it is "entirely consistent with UKIP policies".  He has stood for the Tories at local, national and EU level and has campaigned with formerly Tory, now UKIP MEP Roger Helmer since 2004.

Conference-goers in Birmingham can meet Cllr Bullock this weekend.

The Internet is Making the Big Society a Reality

Whatever a dead loss David Cameron is generally, one thing he was right about was the need to reinvigorate the "little platoons" of the voluntary society: social atomisation has been one of the saddest and most socially destructive trends on the past few decades, both  because of the personal isolation it has caused and also because New Labour's Big State stepped in to fill the gaps, sapping community initiative and self confidence, as well bankrupting the country in the process.

Where Cameron got it spectacularly wrong was to believe that something that is by its nature bottom-up, organic and incremental  could be presented as a top-down, big picture vision to the electorate. Not surprisingly people were left baffled and bemused. Cameron's obsession with the concept is widely credited with the failure of the Tory Party to win a majority at the last election.

But belatedly, people are beginning to get it. Voluntarism was rightly praised as a major factor in a successful Olympics. There are other straws in the wind as well, such as rises in Church attendance.

Now social media seems to be about to turbo-charge these trends. New social sharing sites such as streetbank.com and zipcar are creating a new ethic of collective consumerism, where individuals will share resources and skills to build more organic, cohesive communities. However much we may mourn our declining individual material wealth, it must be regarded as a good thing that people are prepared to leave their silos, look over their high fences and finally get to know their neighbours.

It will also in the long term help our economy. For far too long our economy and society has been driven by a rampant, shallow consumerism, fuelled in part by a feeling of spiritual emptiness and lack of meaning many people feel to their lives. Under New Labour it became a runaway train, and as we all know we have know racked up huge personal, corporate and government debts that will take decades to unwind.

The consumerist model is now plainly unsustainable, and voluntary sharing of our resources within organic communities will be an important part of enhancing our lives, both materially and spiritually, in the years ahead. UKIP can help drive this process by emphasising a genuine commitment to localism and getting involved at a local community level.  Secondly, the party should commit itself to reversing the morally grotesque nationalisation of the charity sector: under the New Labour government, huge numbers of fake charities were set up to do the governments bidding in a covert way and also provide jobs for the boys and girls.

Both the Big State and shallow consumerist societies are widely seen to have failed, as have the LibLabCon parties which oversaw the rise of these malign trends over several decades. Driven by both economic necessity and information technology, the society slowly replacing it will plainly be very different from the one that most of us have known all our lives, and the people within it maybe willing to vote for new political parties who offer a fresh vision and approach. Now that our exit from the EU is arguably within sight, UKIP may also need a new direction in the years ahead, and should be prepared to meet that challenge.

Saturday 15 September 2012

Greeks, Portuguese and Spanish say no more austerity

The Greek President has warned the EU/ECB/IMF plutocrats sent in to oversee the implementation of punishing EU austerity that the Greek nation can't take any more.

Unemployment is still rising and 1 in 4 Greeks are now out of work but the EU sill wants more cutbacks and sackings.

Karolos Papoulis said:
Up until now, we've been receiving a merciless lashing.  I think we have paid enough for our mistakes, and Europe must realize that it needs to help Greece.
Meanwhile, over 100,000 people have protested in the Portuguese capital (and ironically the city that gives its name to the hated treaty that gives the EU almost limitless power), Lisbon, today against more tax rises and EU austerity.  Tens of thousands of Spaniards also descended on Madrid today in protest at tax increases and spending cuts.

So what is the EU's answer to the widespread dissent and opposition to the damaging austerity measures it has imposed on most of the continent?  Emperor Barroso called for ...
a democratic federation of nation states that can tackle our common problems, through the sharing of sovereignty
Nigel Farage responded to this by telling Barroso it was an "emerging, creeping euro-dictatorship" but that ...
The only good news from today is that you’ve helped to bring that referendum just a little bit closer
The europhiles just don't get it do they?  People are demonstrating on the streets of European capitals at EU taxes and austerity so the europhiles call for deeper cuts, more taxes and the abolition of the nation state.  It's unbelievable.

BNP fined for late accounts

The Electoral Commission has fined the BNP for filing its 2010 accounts late.

The accounts were eventually filed with the Electoral Commission in February this year and resulted in a £2,700 fine.

The Electoral Commission said:
People have a right to know how parties are funded and how they spend their money.
Quite.  We're still waiting for an explanation as to why the Lib Dems were allowed to keep £2.4m of stolen money donated to them by convicted fraudster Micheal Brown through his offshore company that doesn't trade in the UK whilst UKIP was pursued relentlessly through the courts by the Electoral Commission for the forfeiture of £350k donated by a retired bookmaker who lives in the UK and isn't a crook but who was mysteriously removed from the electoral register by his local authority without his knowledge.

It's absolutely right to fine the BNP because they wilfully broke electoral law by not filing their accounts in the full knowledge that they were breaking the law and would be fined.  The Electoral Commission is very uneven in the enforcement of its rules though, giving the LibLabCon a free rein to take money from crooks and frauds but coming down hard on anyone who challenges the status quo.

UKIP members criticised for calling election

Not a happy chappy
A Conservative councillor in Hartlepool has criticised two UKIP members for calling a by-election.

Cllr Ray Wells, the leader of Hartlepool Conservatives, says that the election should have waited until November when a mayoral and police commissioner election are being held to save money.

Cllr Wells told the Hartlepool Mail:
I condemn the actions of UKIP because it will cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds extra.

UKIP are fully aware the by-election could have been held on November 15, the same day as the police commissioner and the mayoral referendum.

That would have saved thousands of pounds of hard-earned taxpayers money but they have decided to call it.

Of course I am in favour of democracy and people in the Seaton ward should have three elected members but for the sake of a couple of extra weeks, the local authority could have saved that money.
The fact that the two UKIP members that called for the election are people in Seaton ward seems to have escaped Cllr Wells' mind.  Would he have criticised two residents who weren't members of a political party?  Unlikely - that might cost votes!

If no by-election was called then no by-election would have to be held, leaving them free to co-opt one of their own to fill the vacancy.  UKIP has historically been quite strong in Hartlepool although that position has weakened somewhat since former UKIP Councillor, NEC member and Deputy Chairman, Steve Allison, resigned to help found the local resident's group/political party, Hartlepool First which has upset the Tory/Labour status quo.

This election is an opportunity for UKIP to regain a foothold in Hartlepool which of course the Tories fear immensely given that they are the smallest group on Hartlepool Borough Council behind Labour, the independents and Hartlepool First with just three councillors.

Farage announces logo change

Nigel Farage has told the Telegraph that the UKIP logo is to be replaced as the battle to save the pound has been won.

There have been periodic suggestions from members that the logo or name or both should be changed but they've never gained any traction.  It seems that the decision has been made by a committee (presumably of the NEC) to change the logo and shorten the name officially from United Kingdom Independence Party to UKIP - a change that most people made years ago.

The name change makes sense because the party is almost universally known as UKIP but the £ sign logo is instantly recognisable as UKIP.  The Tories changed their logo in 2006 from the torch to the much-mocked tree yet the torch logo is still recognisable and in fact a Google image search for the Conservative logo will bring back many copies of the torch logo on the first page while many of the tree logos shown are parodies.

UKIP is now accepted as a credible political force with a growing support base and a fatal challenge to the established two and a half party establishment.  Changing the most recognisable thing a political party has - its logo - when it has finally broken into the mainstream just doesn't make sense.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

There is a straw poll for members on the UKIP Faculty group on Facebook on whether the change of name and logo is welcome.

EU membership costs 10% of GDP

UKIP's economics spokesman and respected economist, Professor Tim Congdon, has calculated the cost of EU membership at an average of £5,700 per household.

The cost comes not just from the eye-watering £53m per day in direct contributions but the cost that comes from red tape, anti-competitive practices, fraud, waste, etc.  All in all, membership of the EU is costing the UK about 10% of GDP or £150bn per year.

You can read the full story on the Daily Express website.

Thursday 13 September 2012

Scotland's EU membership is assured under international law

The SNP has had a warning shot fired across the bows of the SS Independence by the EU, much to the delight of unionists.  But how worried should the pro-independence lot be?

The EU has said that an independent Scotland would have to negotiate EU membership if it splits from the UK.  The unionists have jumped on this are happily warning the Scots that not only will they lose the security of the British union if they vote for independence but they will lose the security of the European union as well.  Unfortunately for them it was't Scotland that was being referred to but Catalonia although the principal is much the same.

There are a couple of questions the British nationalists need to ask about this before they start pontificating at the SNP.  The most obvious one is what are the EU actually saying?  Emperor Barosso said that EU citizenship for Catalonian (and therefore Scottish) residents would have to be "negotiated within the international legal order".  The assumption being made about this statement is that Barosso is saying Scotland would have to negotiate its membership as if it was any other country wanting to join.

And what of this negotiating within the international legal order?  International law is quite clear on what happens when one state secedes from another.  The assumption is that all states will become successors where treaties are concerned with all the rights and obligations they entail.  Scotland will remain a party to any international treaties the UK is a party to now if it secedes from the UK under international law.

The idea of the EU turning down a membership application is laughable, especially when the application is from a socialist, europhile country with oil and fish.  The EU is likely to screw concessions out of Scotland in exchange for making the process smoother such as putting a time limit on the opt out from the €uro and Schengen and giving the EU control over Scottish oil and gas and Alex Salmond will give it all to them because he doesn't have a plan that doesn't involve EU membership.

BAE Systems and Barroso's New EU Empire: A Perfect Storm For Cast Iron Dave

With truly impeccable timing, on the day that Barroso ripped off the mask and urged upon us the formation of the European Superstate, BAE announced a proposed takeover by the European defence giant EADS, in part owned by the German and French governments.

You and I might think that Ol' Cast Iron would have to have a death wish to allow the merger to go through, but lets face it he is a Tory "leader", and therefore his default setting is one of myopia and cowardice.

In his blog Iain Martin lays out a case to block the merger, but  he really is not thinking big enough when he outlines some of the political consequences. In his analysis, once they had a controlling interest,  the German and French governments could use the potential for British job losses as a bargaining chip with our future relationship with the coming EU superstate. 

True, but the long term implications are much, much worse. As Nigel Farage states, what is emerging is a new EU Dictatorship. Encircling us at it will from the channel to the Irish border, our position will feel somewhat insecure at the best of times. Now, it would be stretching it rather too much  to think that a future EU superpower would actively seek to wage war on the UK, but what counts here is the intimidation factor in our future relationship. A UK outside the EU super power but without a sovereign defence capability may be not that much better off than within it.

Even Dave must understand that how he handles the BAE issue will be seen among many as an important litmus test to his attitude towards future EU negotiations, where the future destiny of our country will be decided.

If he bottles this, then it really is time for those Tory MPs flirting with UKIP to put up, or shut up.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

EU triples VAT on "green" industry

The British government has been told by the EU that it has to charge the minimum EU VAT rate of 15% on energy efficient products.

Things like insulation, wind turbines, solar panels and wood burners providing hot water only attract 5% VAT to encourage their use to meet the EU's punishing yet completely futile and unnecessary global warming targets.  By increasing the VAT to 15%, buying and producing environmentally damaging electricity is more tax efficient than producing what is billed as clean electricity.

The Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, has put together a robust response to the interfering busybodies in Brussels - he's started a Twitter campaign to try and get them to change their minds.  Truly pathetic and a demonstration of who really runs the country under this supposedly eurosceptic Prime Minister and his merry band of europhiles.

Having created a whole industry from nowhere with the global warming scam, the EU is now going to reap the profits from the unsustainable "green" industry it created before it all collapses by tripling VAT on what it produces.

Our Neo-Medieval Society

We often have a bit of fun with Dan Hannan-baiting here at Bloggers4UKIP. His unworldly attitudes to a Tory-UKIP relations and to political tactics generally are simply too easy a target to miss.

That said, Dan is that very rarest of birds - a Tory who sees the bigger picture. This piece on the realities of Western decline and how it is manifesting itself is truly brilliant and the most insightful piece I have read on the economic downturn. Programmed as we are by Hollywood films and media sensationalism to think in catastrophic terms, we are missing the slow, remorseless grinding down which is taking place all around us.

Dan makes the very good point that we are also too strongly influenced by historical footage of the last Great Depression, and think we should be witnessing social calamity all around us: soup kitchens, Jarrow marches and near-starvation conditions. Instead, as we are so much richer than we were 80 years ago, People are not, in the main, reduced to such desperation. As a consequently the political violence or even violent revolution that people predicted in some European states has (yet) failed to materialise.

That said, people are imperceptibly becoming poorer: In the UK, employment is increasing, but wages consistently lag inflation. In many Southern European societies, the situation is of course much worse. As things decline, we can expect life to become progressively nastier and meaner.

But what Dan misses from his analysis is that there is another major difference between society back in the 1930s and today. Then, at least in the UK, there was a much stronger sense of national identity and common culture. Yes, there were those who made the siren calls for workers solidarity and the rousing verses of the Internationale, but generally a British worker, no matter how desperate his circumstances, still identified with the British state.

Now, it would be truer to say we live in a neo-medieval society. In medieval times, as now, society was dominated by a small, very wealthy elite who spent their time manoeuvering at Court and playing international power politics. Motivated largely by personal greed and ambition, they held the general population in contempt and had far more in common with contemporaries in other realms. Political structures were also broadly similar, with weak accountability and the common man having virtually no control over the governing system. The European Union, of course, is a secular analogy for the Holy Roman Empire of the Medieval period.

As the economic conditions of the majority decline, in the short to medium term the very wealthy globalist elite are insulated from the effects and have little personal incentive to improve matters, particularly as that may mean curbing some of their own grandiose ambitions. However, just as the Medieval epoch resulted in peasant's revolt, inevitably the neo-medieval one will also.

One can perhaps perceive how our arrogant, effete, decadent Liberal elite will eventually be brought down by a general population whose culture becomes progressively rougher and more brutalised as economic deterioration takes its toll.

What if anything of our way of life or Institutions survive this process is another matter.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Catalonia demands independence and bailout

A pro-independence rally in Barcelona today attracted 1.5m people demanding more money from the Spanish government and independence for Catalonia.

Spain's regions all have a degree of autonomy with the most antagonistic regions - Catalonia and Baque -getting more independence from Madrid than the rest.  They have the power to set their own taxes and to borrow money, all underwritten by the Spanish central bank which has very little control over the debts the regions rack up.  While the going is good and the regions can pay the debts they build up the arrangement works perfectly because it directly links spending to income but when the going gets tough the lack of responsibility for those debts leads to the problem Spain is seeing now where the regional governments can't afford to pay and the federal government has to foot the bill.

The Catalans are demanding more money from the federal government because they pay a lot more into the Spanish treasury than they get back.  They're demanding a €5bn bailout and a change to Spain's tax rules to close the gap between tax bills and budgets.

Devolved governments spending money they don't have, lack of fiscal responsibility, one "region" paying more tax than they get from the central government.  This is all sounding very familiar.  What we are seeing in Spain isn't just a warning about the folly of the EU single currency, it's a warning about what happens when you allow devolved governments to borrow money without proper supervision by the central bank guaranteeing the loans.

It's important that devolved governments have the direct link between tax and spend but taking on sovereign debt should be the preserve of the central bank and if devolved, the central bank needs to keep a tight reign on what debts are being taken on.

Monday 10 September 2012

Godders slated by Yorkshire Post for promoting equality

UKIP MEP and Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner candidate, Godfrey Bloom, has been slated by the Yorkshire Post and rent-a-rant, Peter Tatchell, for suggesting that everyone should be treated equally in the eyes of the law.

Godders said that if he is elected PCC for Humberside he would stop the practice of treating crimes against people who consider themselves part of a minority group as worse or deserving of harsher penalties than the majority.  The Yorkshire Post misrepresented this as wanting to abolish the concept of hate crime which clearly isn't what Godders was saying.  Even when the Yorkshire Post contacted the press office for a quote and it was pointed out to them that he was merely saying that everyone should be treated the same regardless of their colour, religion, sexuality or whatever they define themselves by they still published their misleading article.  They even went to Peter Tatchell, who can be replied upon to feign outrage at pretty much anything from symbols of British Imperialism in Australia to the Grand Mufti of Moscow's opinions on gay marriages, for an opinion.

The Yorkshire Post is a Tory-supporting newspaper (even getting the exclusive story on the naming of the Tory PCC candidate) and of course UKIP is the biggest threat to their preferred candidate who has very little chance of getting the kind of publicity being enjoyed by Labour's millionaire socialist class warrior Lord Prescott and UKIP's Godfrey Bloom MEP.

Modern Misandry and the Decline of Men

The Spectator magazine has published a piece called 'the Richer Sex' by Liz Mundy, (predictably republished in the Daily Mail) declaring that women are overtaking men in terms of earning power and will be the majority of breadwinners in the next few years. The Spectator's editor, Fraser Nelson, who is clearly very taken with the theory, backs it up with more data in his Spectator blog.

The social consequences of such a change would, of course, be profound, changing not just hundreds but thousands of years of assumptions on how society is organised. It would clearly require politicians to radically rethink gender and family policies.  Will men in future need quotas to help them in education and the workplace? How should child-care rights be re-thought? Will men and women adapt to these trends, or will role-reversal lead to society become yet more atomised and birth-rates falling still further?

To begin with, I should declare an interest and say as a man with strong traditionalists instincts  on the masculine role in society and family, I instinctively recoil from the thought of such change, and that undoubtedly induces some cognitive bias into my thinking on the subject, but here goes:

The first thing that needs challenging is the exceptionally lazy assumption that these trends are "inevitable" or "irrevocable'. Many things have been regarded as "inevitable" in my lifetime. such as the decline of the Britain to third world status in the 1970s, the victory of Communism over Capitalism, Irish reunification, and not least the adoption of a successful European single currency by the United Kingdom! Indeed, those, of us of a certain age can remember that the Mundy's arguments were all the rage during the 1990s when we were forcefully told ad nauseam that women would inevitably triumph over men in all aspects of life.

In fact, asserting something is inevitable is usually a sign that some of the arguments behind the assumptions are fundamentally quite weak, and that is certainly the case with aspects the analysis presented by Mundy and Fraser Nelson in their Spectator pieces.

Perhaps the most outlandish of Mundy's claims is that there is something intrinsically feminine about a college education and by extension that girls will continue to outperform boys in this vital area. Really? So why did boys outperform girls in education prior to 1985?

Mundy and Nelson are also guilty of gross oversimplification to suggest that educational attainment will automatically transfer to career success later in life. Of course it is an important factor, but so are life choices such as having children. Survey after survey shows that most women want to prioritise child-rearing once they have children of their own and it is at this point that the gender pay gap reverses in favour of men.

Lastly, Fraser Nelson especially should know that trends in UK employment during the last 15 years have greatly favoured women over men, with the vast expansion of the public and charitable sectors in term of both pay and numbers relative to the private sector. These trends are now almost certainly at an end, and some future areas of growth in manufacturing or information technology may well favour men over women.

All that said, it does appear likely that  the long term gender power-shift will continue. Some of the reasons for this are clearly to be welcomed, such as genuine equality for women both before the law and in perception of their abilities. Others, such as changes in the structure of Western economies away from relying on hard  labour that favoured male physical strength are very unlikely to be reversed.

However, I would argue that, far from being inevitable, to a significant extent they  are the result of pronounced misandry in modern culture which is damaging the prospects of men and are to the long term detriment of both sexes.

The reason for this lies in the baby-boomer years: in  many countries since the 1960s, we have seen the rise of an over-class which have never known anything but peace, prosperity and individual success, and whom have gone onto dominate most of areas of national life. It is perhaps unsurprising that, largely shielded from life's harsher realities, this new elite preferred to develop an increasingly emotionally based culture rather than a factually based one. In terms of public policy, this culture  tends to favour analyses and opinions that are often very shallow but nonetheless feel right and validate the egos of the holders. It is perhaps a bit insulting to women to term such a sentimental  and narcissistic culture as "feminised", but nonetheless in terms of public policy it does naturally tend to favour those groups in society perceived as most feminine - i.e. women or gay men - and discounts heterosexual masculine virtues. It is often said we live in a Politically Correct culture, but it would be much more true to say we live in an Emotionally Correct one.

Take for instance the issue of education. What was it that changed so much that meant the girls's started to do so much better than boys?  The answer is that the nature of education itself changed substantially, with a shift towards a more course-work oriented approach and away from examinations. It is a well known fact that males respond best to a competitive work environment whereas females prefer collaboration, and to some extent these changes were made to eliminate the undoubted bias in the system towards boys that existed at the time. However, a deeper reason for the change was that somehow competition itself was deemed to be nasty, cruel and damaging to the self-esteem of those less gifted. Instead an "all must have prizes" culture emerged.  Essentially, male learning culture was deemed to be culturally incorrect, and not surprisingly boy's academic performance started to severely lag behind  girl's.

Or take for instance nostrums of "equality" when it came to salaries and positions. Although the original ideals between equal pay legislation were certainly correct, i.e. to eliminate discrimination against women, they were extended to suggest that all inequality in outcomes must be intrinsically wrong. The idea that much of the gap could be explainable by the fact that men work for longer hours than women, often in more stressful, dangerous or unpleasant jobs, was and is completely ignored.  The equality myth is most pernicious in the public sector, which in recent years has started to equalise pay across completely different jobs and roles according to their perceived equality of value  to the employer, again taking absolutely no account as to what doing the job may actually entail. This had the result of discriminating against men, who often prefer to do unpleasant jobs which would otherwise attract a premium in order to be able to fulfil their roles as breadwinners. Another result of this legislation is that women are now substantially overpaid for public sector jobs compared to the same position in the private sector.

As a final example, take the issue of family policy. It is now established beyond reasonable doubt that marriage is by far the best way of raising children, and is helpful to the wellbeing of adults of both sexes, particularly men. However,  still the government hesitates to support it through the tax system through fear of seeming harsh and judgmental, being only interested in the subject of gay marriage. Other difficult issues such as child benefit, which effectively partially nationalise the role of the father in lower income groups, or the rights of fathers when couples have separated, are largely avoided.

The tragedy of all this is that none of the arguments presented here in favour of more male-friendly policies are in any way new, and have been put forcefully, not least by female commentators such as Melanie Phillips and Ruth Lea, down the years. But they remain completely ignored and their merits hardly ever honestly debated.

A good deal of the reason for this is cynical calculation by the Political Class, who are well aware that women are more likely than men to vote and are more likely to be floating voters. As most senior politicians are male, it is seen as a political death wish to debate these issues honestly and risk been seen as a misogynist. (This is also not helped by men's reticence in complaining about the situation for fear of being seen unmanly or sexist.) But mostly, the problem lies in the fact that our shallow and narcissistic establishment prefers solutions that press all the right emotional buttons, irrespective of the fairness of their outcomes in the real world.

The misandry that runs through our establishment elite has also permeated down into our general culture, not least into the world of television and especially television advertising, which very routinely show appallingly derogatory stereotypes for men which would no longer be allowed for women. In future years, we will look back at this is total disgust and be amazed  that this was ever allowed. Likewise  in television drama, positive male role models can be few and far between. Indeed, it was said that unusually for a period drama, men very much enjoyed the series 'Downton Abbey" because of the Earl of Grantham character was so appealing a role model for men. Again, the portrayal of men in the media is a long term problem which has been rattling away for around 20 years now, and plainly the drip-drip-drip of negative stereotypes must by now be seriously be affecting men's  morale and thus their performance in both education and the work-place.

So what of the future? It seems doubtful that our feminised Metropolitan Liberal elite will be replaced by anything else anytime soon, so the future for men may appear rather bleak. An exception may be in education, where Michael Gove's new free schools should allow concerned parents and individuals to reintroduce masculine values of competition and discipline into education. However, it is perhaps ominous that a school designed very much for that purpose, the proposed Phoenix Free School in Oldham, was turned down flat by the Department of Education this year on seemingly spurious grounds.

A ray of light is that men do seem to be waking up their position as second-class citizens in society and are now becoming more vocal in opposition to further and further feminisation in the name of "equality". if you want evidence of this, look at the seething anger in the many comments left at the bottom of the Spectator magazine piece.

There is a huge opportunity for UKIP here which we should exploit both out of principle and political calculation: men's rights are plainly going to be a developing issue, as far sighted MP's such as Dominic Raab have already spotted. The time is ripe: a great many votes from alienated men will go to the political party that starts to articulate male concerns in a dignified and measured manner that doesn't threaten or insult women. In this regard we have a significant advantage, in that the effete Metropolitan leaders of LibLabCon parties, who no doubt Arnold Schwartzenegger would dismiss as "girly men",  will never be able to speak as convincingly as our own dear Nigel Farage or Paul Nuttall on this subject.

Let us have the courage to grasp this new opportunity and create a truly equal future free of both misandry and misogyny.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Pre-conference Coffee

Join us for a pre-conference Coffee at 8am on Friday 21st September at Starbucks in Colmore Row.
We're not made of money so you'll have to buy your own coffee but the company is free!
The postcode for Starbucks is B3 2AU and it's only 150yds from where the conference is being held.  There are two Starbucks on Colemore Row so please make sure you head for the one nearest Town Hall!

ECB becomes leader of last resort for €urozone

Via Austrian economist, Detlev Schlichter, comes news that the EU Central Bank has declared itself the lender of last resort for €urozone countries.

Apparently this is allowed under existing treaty provisions and means that if an EU member state is unable to pay its way it will be legally responsible for creating some magic money out of thin air to lend to that member state, just like the Bank of England did to bail out RBS, Lloyds, Northern Rock and the other banks it ended up financing.

On the subject of the Bank of England, it's interesting to note that the BoE provided almost €58.6m of capital to the ECB which represents a 14.5% share in the company.  What I have been unable to discover thus far - but intend to find out - is whether the Bank of England is liable for the debts of the ECB and if it is, whether that liability is limited and to how much.

Dodington By-election

We've been informed of another by-election this week contested by a UKIP candidate ...

South Gloucester Council, Dodington

Lib Dem787 (52.7%)
Lab354 (23.7%)
UKIP (Aaron Foot)213 (14.3%)
Con139 (9.3%)

Friday 7 September 2012

Nettleham & Saxilby and Bradley Stoke Meadowbank election results

UKIP candidates contested two by-elections yesterday.

Lincolnshire County Council, Nettleham and Saxilby

Jacqueline Brockway (Conservatives)1,026 (43.3%)
Charles Shaw (Liberal Democrats)600 (25.3%)
Howard Thompson (UKIP)266 (11.2%)
Richard Coupland (Labour)257 (10.9%)
David Watson (Independent)196 (8.3%)
Elliott Fountain (English Democrats)21 (0.9%)

Turnout 28%

Bradley Stoke Town Council, Meadowbank

Paul Hardwick (Conservative)251 (49.4%)
Caroline Sullivan (UKIP)140 (27.6%)
Robin Horsfall (Labour)117 (23%)

Turnout 20.8%

Great results for UKIP.  Wins would have been good but second and third are better than last!

Thursday 6 September 2012

Conservative Future scared of UKIP

Political newspaper, London Spin, has published the results of an online poll which says that Conservative Future members see Young Independence as a threat.

London Spin claims to be one of the UK's leading newspapers although I've never heard of it so I'll have to take their word for it.  The poll only had 150 respondents so it falls well short of what would be considered a representative sample and there is no weighting so again, the results need to be treated with some scepticism.

That said, 64% of respondents said they saw UKIP as a threat which is well beyond the margin of error.  The defection of high profile Conservative Future officers Alexandra Swann and Jakob Whiten was a bitter blow for the Tories who are struggling to keep their young supporters so it's hardly surprising.

Shale Gas Will Destroy Islamism

Three seemingly disparate stories to mull over:

1. Yet again sectarian violence flared at an EDL Demonstration in Walthamstowe.
2. John Hayes - a pro- shale gas MP, is appointed as Energy Minister
3. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports in the Daily Telegraph that Saudi Arabia may hit Peak Oil much sooner than expected.

So what connects them?

As many people know, the Saudis use their vast oil wealth to finance the spread of the ultra-puritan Wahabi strain of Islam, with new mosques and preachers being sent all over the world, not least to Western Europe, in order to radicalise the local Muslim population. Fears about rising Muslim demographics and Islamic radicalism  has created a reaction in the formation of Defence Leagues in several countries, of which the English Defence League was the first. Sectarianism, almost totally absent from England for hundreds of years, is very much on the rise and many of our cities appear to on the edge of being ulsterised. Meanwhile, our cosseted  Metropolitan Liberal elite simply turn a blind eye and pretend such events aren't really happening, and if even they are, don't form part of an escalating and very ominous trend.

Why then is there reason, in the long term, to be optimistic that Islamism will be defeated? Yes, the link between declining Saudi oil revenues and the ability to finance Wahabism is an obvious one, but what on Earth has that got to do with shale gas?

The answer lies in understanding mainstream Sunni Islam theology. Unlike Christianity, which (mostly) made its peace with science several hundred years ago, Sunni Islam completely rejects the laws of cause and effects that are the very basics of physics. Whereas Christianity is more or less happy with the concept that God created a rational universe for man bound by certain laws, in Sunni theology, Allah wills at any given moment what occurs*. The concept of fixed physical laws, and for that matter human Free Will, are considered serious blasphemy.

Hence the presence and extraction of huge quantities of oil in Saudi Arabia is seen as evidence of Allah's continued approval of Wahabism, as he wills its bounty from moment to moment.* Saudi oil therefore doesn't only finance the spread of militant Islam, but even more gives it a great deal of intellectual underpinning as well.

It follows that as the oil runs out in Saudi Arabia and vast shale gas reserves are exploited in the West, the theological rationale behind Islamism will be undermined.

Unless of course, radical Muslims interprete a causal relationship between the discovery of shale gas in Europe and the rapidly changing demographics in their favour.

Oh, hang on a minute....


*For a fascinating discourse Sunni theological development, I would strongly recommend 'The Closing of the Muslim Mind' by Robert Reilly.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Bill Etheridge unveiled as West Midlands PCC candidate

The former Tory council candidate, Bill Etheridge, who was hounded out of the Tories for having his picture taken with a golliwog toy before joining UKIP has been announced as the UKIP candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for West Midlands Police.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Cabinet Reshuffe buries SNP independence referendum bill

The deckchairs on the SS ConDemned have been reshuffled and the newly rearranged cabinet looks like this ...

Wee Willy Vague stays on as Foreign Secretary, a reward for abandoning his principles in support of his lying, cheating boss.  George Osborne is staying on as Chancellor despite having no ideas beyond borrowing more and more money and Theresa May is safe as Home Secretary as a pay-off for spinning the insignificant and pointless non-EU immigration targets (which are being missed) as the answer to the immigration time bomb.  Philip Hammond has kept his job in Defence for covering up defence underfunding and the outsourcing of defence contracts from England to Scotland.

Chris Grayling has been promoted to Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Injustice having served out his time as Employment Minister rather limply doing nothing of note to combat unemployment.  Europhile nutjob, Ken Clarke, has been given a Prescottesque non-job as a minister without portfolio advising Cameron on economic policy.  Clarke believes we should join the €uro.  Enough said!

Jeremy Hunt has been shunted into the Department for Health after making a hash as Culture Minister when he was caught out telling people he was going to block Rupert Murdoch's buy-out of News International when he was supposed to be an impartial arbitrator.

Andrew Lansley has been bumped up to Leader of the Commons having earned his leaders' loyalty driving through privatisation of the health service in England.  Michael Gove stays in the Department for Education despite coming under criticism for lying about selling off school playing fields in England and allowing discredited climate change and pro-EU propaganda to be taught in schools.

Vince Cable stays on as Business Secretary - an appointment that seems to make sense on paper as he has a background in economics but in reality he has shown himself to be an anti-business, high tax socialist.  Iain Duncan Smith also stays on in the DWP presiding over disastrous tinkering to the welfare state without doing anything to fix the benefits system or get people doing something constructive.

Ed Davey has kept his job peddling climate change propaganda, killing elderly and vulnerable people with "green" taxes and doing nothing to address the impending electricity shortages.  Danny Alexander also stays on as Chief Secretary to the Treasury giving him more opportunities to asset-strip England whilst driving the economy further into recession.  Alexander was responsible for the attempt to sell off English forests and was prepared to rewrite the English constitution to allow it but like the hypocrite he is, actively campaigned against proposals to sell forests in his own constituency in Scotland.

Michael Moore has been promoted into the part time post of Scottish Secretary and may be the last British MP to hold the post if the SNP's independence referendum goes their way.  Patrick McLoughlin has been moved into the Ministry of Transport where he is expected to smooth the way for a third runway at Heathrow and snub Boris Johnson's alternative proposal for an airport in the Thames.

Eric Pickles is staying on as Communities and English Local Government Secretary where he can continue to stall genuine localism and maintain the top-down command structure the big state Tories love.  Dominic Grieve has moved into the post of Attorney General - a job that he is actually pretty well qualified for but his opposition to devolution and knowledge of constitutional affairs are the most likely reasons for his appointment ahead of the Scottish independence referendum.

Maria Miller has been promoted to English Culture, Media and Sport Secretary where she will oversee the mythical "legacy" of the Olympics, giving away venues paid for by the taxpayer to private companies to run at a profit.  Grant Shapps has been promoted to Party Chairman, a job which normally only results in a cabinet position in places like China and Cuba.  Owen Paterson has been moved out of the Northern Ireland Office into DEFRA where his farming background and rural constituency may bring some common sense to the environmental agenda but his promotion is probably at the cost of his principles.

Justine Greening has been put in charge of International Development having been moved out of the Department for Transport for her opposition to the expansion of Heathrow Airport.  Andrew Mitchell is a Camerloon and has been promoted to Chief Whip, responsible for bullying and threatening MPs into doing as they're told.

Theresa Villiers has been moved out of Transport where she consistently underwhelmed to the Northern Ireland Office.  She was heavily criticised for claiming second home expenses for a house 8 minutes away from a tube station.  Former Welsh AM, David Jones, has been promoted from within the Welsh Office to Welsh Secretary much to the delight of Welsh Tory MPs who disliked the idea of an MP elected in England holding the part time Welsh Secretary job.  Lord Strathclyde stays on as Leader of the House of Lords.

So, a rather underwhelming cabinet reshuffle which will give us more of the same incompetence and duplicity.  As for Cameron's Cast Iron Guarantee™ to make his cabinet one third female ... well, that's gone the same way as his Cast Iron Guarantee™ to hold an EU referendum.

Whilst the cabinet reshuffle itself is less than inspiring, the timing is interesting.  The SNP announced its legislative programme for the coming year today, including a proposed date for the Scottish independence referendum.  What's that you say?  You didn't see anything in the news about it?  Anyone would think the timing of the cabinet reshuffle was deliberate.