Tuesday, 30 November 2010

What a mess Eur in now...

Over recent months the EU has been in the news quite a lot. For a change.
But it's not good news, whatever spin you put on it.
All the critics of the Euro are now champing at the bit to say "I told you so" - but what good will that do?
The single currency could never work across such a disparate collection of states. In order for one currency to stand the test of time, economies must be put on an even keel, which means homogenizing various attributes of trading, lending and business across the board. In order in turn to achieve this sort of commonality, politics too and domestic spending must be equatable. In Greece the cause of collapse has been put down to flagrant overspends of public money and ludicrous under-taxing. In Ireland, it's the reckless lending of banks that have bled the country dry. Spain, Portugal and Italy, and now, so they say, Belgium, are also at risk of falling, connected by a now bitterly devalued currency that will find it tremendously hard to get back on its feet. Surely there can be no future for the Euro, as such problems will come round time and again unless a federal inter-country bloc is established. And it's not just UKIP who detest the thought of that. It goes against the public wishes of nearly every member state. Losing sovereignty is an issue, therefore, so is a single currency.
But this of course poses a problem for the EU, who ultimately want to see deeper integration, a centralised political state of Europe. Without the Euro, what else have the Commission got to justify an onslaught of common legislation? Some might say introducing the Euro before creating a federal state was building the trains before laying the tracks. Derailing was a guarantee.
So what will happen now?
Certainly the EU must cling to the Euro to justify the whole project isn't jeopardized. Even Van Rompuy came out with a sweeping statement to this tune. But clinging isn't as easy as it sounds. If Portugal falls next, the European Central Bank and EU reserves available for bail outs would just cover the costs. But if this happens, what about Spain, with a far bigger balance sheet? The ECB itself risks having to be bailed out and the only economy that could wade in and help is Germany, whose population is already calling for a return to the Deutschmark. Surely in a "democratic" institution, the vox populi should shine through?
Well we are yet to see that happen, on Lisbon, on monetary union, on all sorts. But the next round of national elections in certain countries could see a lot of anti European sentiment develop, and national governments less cooperative than the France and Germany of today who have negotiated setting up a crisis cash reserve for the next loose thread.
Below are some vids of what was a very busy week in Strasbourg. I think that rather than try to write about everything I spoke about, it would be easier to post the clips instead!








Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Gross misrepresentation

You may have seen on the day or subsequent to publication an article in the Daily Mail suggesting I was wrongly claiming daily allowances by signing in to Parliament on the morning of Friday 12th November despite the fact I had a day of meetings to attend before I could leave for Wales.

I want to make clear that I work very hard with my staff to make any claims entirely transparent and in accordance with both the codes of conduct of the Parliament and what I believe is just. I do not and never will over-claim allowances or see paid expenses as a profit making opportunity.

The system in place has plenty of flaws.

I have issued a statement informing the press I am pursuing this matter. I do not accept the implications of what was reported in both the newspaper and by the programme which grossly misrepresented me as a politician and an individual.

The statement reads:

"I strongly refute the suggestion made by the Daily Mail on Saturday 13th November 2010 and by the Channel Four Dispatches programme on Monday 15th November 2010 to the effect that on Friday 12th November 2010 I claimed my daily allowance at the European parliament improperly. I am currently seeking legal advice on this matter."

Thursday, 21 October 2010

EU must be joking!

On the same day that George Osborne delivered to the UK his package on cuts the EU voted to increase their budget by 6%. I can't think of one EU country not having to claw back lost taxpayer contributions that have been swallowed by deficit and similarly wish to reiterate that just weeks ago Brussels passed legislation allowing the EU to fine any country that fails to keep within stipulated limits of debt.

Rumour has it that within the budget increase is an augmented allowance for champagne receptions and limousines.

This is not just a drop in the ocean though. With the EU now making some 75% of our legislation, proposing direct taxation, demanding to scrutinise our budgets and setting up a Foreign Office power is becoming increasingly centralised while the nation states are being subsumed by relinquishing public services to afford massive debts. Whilst some countries have been worth bail outs from Brussels, others haven't, and of course, those that did qualify are all using the doom ridden Euro, the centrepiece of Brussels' federal display.

It's appalling that we are still a member of this ridiculously expensive club and what irritates me further is the Westminster Government being far too complicit in Europe's every whim. Isn't it about time Osborne suggests cutting the UK out of Europe?

If we left Europe there would be no need for cuts at all. Considering the £81 billion of savings George Osborne has outlined for the next five years, it's interesting to point out that our contributions to Brussels over the same period amount to £82 billion. Not only that but billions would be saved on not having to administer EU law, pay child support to EU migrants and provide employment and education for anyone from the other member states wishing to settle here.

At
£45 million a day, that works out as £16 million a year. Multiply by five and what do you get?

£45,000,000
x 365 days = £16,425,000,000 per year
X
5 Years = £82,125,000,000


And those calculations don't even include the 6% budget increase Brussels has ludicrously secured. The numbers surely speak for themselves.



Thursday, 7 October 2010

Fight For Funds

It's not often I go with the begging bowl outstretched in Europe, but when thousands of jobs have been created under the auspices of an EU programme in Wales which is set to be cut in 3 years then I will do my utmost to protect my country.
Regional Development funds, structural funds, convergence, cohesion...It's all been in the press lately as it is becoming clear that East Wales could lose £280m worth of funding after 2013. Martin Shipton ran an article on it in today's Western Mail after meeting with us in Brussels yesterday. Regional Development funding accounts for a significant proportion of the very little the UK actually recoups from soaring membership fees. £280m that is therefore rightfully ours, in Wales, in the first place, given that the UK actually pays some £6bn to Brussels and will likely pay more year on year.
I have addressed the Budget Commissioner over the issue when he came to speak with my Committee on Regional Development. President Barroso recently visited Wales and was escorted around the Assembly on a Structural Funds Presentation. All the Welsh MEPs are working together to make sure that Wales doesn't lose out on the cash, and to guarantee transitory arrangements to protect us socially and economically if Brussels do decide to pull the rug from under our feet.
Below is video of me speaking in Parliament earlier today on the issue.
video
Keep your eyes on the press too, for they've got wind of the story, and for once, the EU is being reported.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Mandy Hand-me downs


Disgusted I am at news over the weekend that Lord Mandelson is receiving pay from the EU for doing absolutely nothing. Two years after leaving the post as a commissioner, Mandy is among 17 former commissioners still receiving half of their former salaries. Not only that but it's £8,600 a month!
I mean really, how many other people leave a job and are still getting paid for NOT doing it two years later? It's not like Mandy's been hard up, on the dole, trying to get by from week to week. Even on this half salary he could pay the dole to around 15 people who really did need the support.
It sickens me that at the same time, I am fighting tooth and nail to make sure the EU doesn't pull the plug on funds to Wales which have been in place for years now and are responsible for thousands of jobs, because if the money suddenly disappears God knows what will be flushed down the sink and in what state Wales would be left.
This week a delegation from Welsh Local Government Authority are over in Brussels lobbying for protection of Regional Development monies after 2013 in East Wales and Barroso himself is coming over on Thursday to discuss Structural Funds (and enjoy the golf no doubt). While I am fighting to make sure men and woman struggling in Wales stay in employment, and demanding the UK taxpayer sees some return on the amount of money poured into this undemocratic organisation, it is galling to see the likes of Mandy still receiving 8 grand a week for having sold our country to Brussels.
I suppose his autobiography couldn't have sold that many copies afterall, because surely no one would suggest he was THAT greedy???



Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Frankenfish and Farce

I've read today that apparently a new breed of GM salmon could soon be winging its way to Europe and could well be on a table near you very soon. The genetically altered specimen grows twice as fast as a normal fish and has been approved by American authorities as safe for human consumption. We already face encroaching widespread fish farming as Brussels' Common Fisheries Policy drains our oceans of stock, but the thought of genetically modified farmed fish makes my skin crawl.
GM crops are one thing, but man made fish is surely taking the laws of nature and totally ripping up the rule book. European legislation suggests each member state is able to decide how much they wish to use genetic modification, but does put a ban on cloning. However with the amount of meat and fish brought in from third countries via trade deals, and repackaged and sold in supermarkets, it is likely at some point the Frankenfish will descend on Europe. Chilling.

Meanwhile whilst we are facing cuts a plenty here in the UK, Baroness Ashton has the cheek to demand an eight per cent budget increase for her new EU External Action Service (read here "EU Foreign Affairs".) Not only is there surely no room to maneouvre for a so called external service when foreign affairs is supposed to remain a sovereign dependency, but whilst the rest of Europe scrimps and saves post recession, the good Baroness has thrown frugality out of the window.

I received a big cheer from the hemicycle today after once again pointing out to the wasteful Commission that few MEPs can see the worth in travelling all the way to Strasbourg once a month (or even twice, as it has been this month) to hold debates which could more easily and cheaply be conducted in Brussels. Why we transport thousands of staff with a cargo of trunks packed with documents across the continent to a rather grandiose building used but 12 times a year, all funded by the taxpayer, I surely don't know. It is an absolute farce and should really rile the hardworking citizens of Europe who are seeing public services cut, taxes raised, prices shoot up all under the watchful eye of the supposedly austere European Commission.

It's more a case of "do as I say" not "do as I do" and quite frankly it has to stop. This issue unites MEPs from all countries and parties, other than a handful of French whose country no doubt benefits from the monthly circus coming to town. I thought the Gallic trend was currently to evict workshy, tax-feeding foreigners? Perhaps not!


video
Publish Post

Thursday, 16 September 2010

I am, and I'm not.

Ok, ok, forgive us our sins oh mighty BBC!
To err is human, and being able to laugh at ourselves, well, that's something essential if you are to stay sane in the world of politics. There's always a scrum of journalists waiting for the smallest slip up.
My ever industrious press officer issued a statement on my behalf yesterday and missed the vital word "not"in the opening sentence. That is, she failed to put the not in "I am NOT standing in the leadership contest."
Yet the rest of the statement was typed to perfection and one would think the sentences that followed explaining my decision not to stand would have elucidated the fact that the exclusion of a negative in the opening sentence was a typo. It's surely happened to us all hasn't it? And the poor girl is suffering rather grizzly sounding aberrations of the cornea at the moment, leaving her somewhat partially sighted and struggling at the mercy of a computer screen.
To clarify the matter she quickly hurried out an amendment. By that time however the blogpost was almost at fruition, and it would be a shame to let a good joke go.
Thankfully we both find it funny.
But just to clarify
I am NOT standing.
Got it Betsan?

Betsan Powys Blog:
"Another race, another set of bookies' odds - this time the UKIP leadership, which John Bufton MEP is 5-1 on to take. But he's not standing. Or is he?
He's just released a statement in which "the MEP for Wales believes he must clarify that he is taking part in the leadership contest".
That's clear then. He is.
"While I am of course flattered to hear that I have received backing to be UKIP's next leader I must reiterate that I will not at this time be nominating myself as a candidate for the role".
So he's not?
As I type, the statement has just been re-sent: "Statement from John Bufton MEP on UKIP Leadership contest (with slight amendment)".
The "slight" amendment? "Not". Got it?

Friday, 10 September 2010

Last Post

For years now people have been campaigning about the closures of local post offices. But rarely in the protests have you heard criticism of the EU.

Yes, successive Governments have stripped support away from the psot office. They've failed to help Royal Mail modernise as more and more licensing applications are done online, benefits paid directly into the bank account and so forth. The post office needed revolutionising and it just didn't happen.

But the real threat to the Royal Mail was the EU Postal Services Directive, which ordered under competition law for the delivery of mail to be privatised. Without this, the Post Office was left with no choice but to rely on taxpayer's money to stay open, money which over the years has been withdrawn.



I presented this argument to the European Commission yesterday stating:

"When the EU ordered the postal sector open up to competition it destroyed a vital British service. As a sovereign nation our post offices were run by Royal Mail and linked with national savings, licensing, welfare and pension collection to name a few.

In 1975 we had 25,000 post offices, now there are less than 12,000, despite a population boom. After being forced to sell off its profit making arm, post offices couldn’t stay open without government support. Thousands shut, stripping communities of access to vital services.

The EU postal reform says good-quality postal services should be available throughout the Union. That is exactly what we had.

“It’s a disgrace to strip Britain of an efficient public service merely to satisfy Competition law. Do you wish to privatise the NHS too? The UK must be allowed to fully opt out.”

In 2008, our Government commissioned an independent review of the Postal Service. The Hooper report warned that a forced restructuring under European law would be highly likely. That same author today is advising Westminster that the only option left for Royal Mail now is to sell it off completely.

Government support for post offices was withdrawn, causing widespread closure of vital sub post offices isolating whole communities from access to necessary services.

It’s another example of erroneous EU law interfering with a perfectly suitable British model.

Successive Governments in Westminster have let down the postal service by failing to move with the times and account for technological developments. But what this has done is leave the door wide open for Brussels to march in and destroy Royal Mail and the postal service sector entirely.”

Today, Richard Hooper, who authored the report in December 2008, will recommend the Westminster Government that a sell-off is now the only way to raise the money to modernise the service, threatening huge job loss and massive service disruption.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Time Away

Summer recess gave people plenty of time to stew over the state of politics across Europe. It’s been a period of financial turmoil across the globe, leading to turning points in public opinion as nationalism has been pitched against internationalism. Aid to Pakistan only crept in, despite the flooding being one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the last decade, with many citing the impacts of the recovering global economy while others pointed the finger at the country’s international standing. What many voters seem to want to hear amid cuts, growing unemployment and escalating public debt is that charity starts at home. None more so, would it seem, than the Germans. Wearied by the weight of the Eurozone leaning upon German austerity for bail-outs, many Germans no longer want to be the piggy bank for the continent. Support for the European Union has plummeted to its lowest level across the continent. Greeks feel imprisoned in an economic stranglehold by Brussels, France has taken action over the country’s Roma population despite heavily furrowed brows in Brussels and Iceland, once a keen prospective member of the EU, has gone to war with Scotland over mackerel quotas, not only potentially decimating the North Sea’s population of the fish, but also their chances of entering the EU any time soon. So it is absolutely perfect timing for the budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski to state in a German newspaper that the UK rebate was no longer justifiable. Perhaps he was trying to soothe the embittered German public by suggesting the second biggest contributor to the EU would also be made to cough up more taxpayers’ money. But this is surely a fight he cannot win. Without the rebate, the UK's contribution as a percentage of national income would double that of France and be one-and-a-half times the size of Germany's. Already we have seen the rebate halved from 6 billion to 3 billion euro under Blair. Yet even with our rebate intact, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility the UK contribution is set to treble. The £3bn paid in to Brussels in 2009 will soar to a massive £8.2bn by 2015, despite many Government departments being asked to make cuts of up to 40 per cent. Not only that, a queue of poor countries knocking on the door to be let in to the EU, bringing with them roads that need resurfacing, town centres that need regenerating and millions of underpaid or unemployed workers with free passage to the UK will only exacerbate the levelling off of wealth across the Union.

But it’s not just direct cash payments and loss of jobs that has such a detrimental impact on our lives. Everywhere you turn Europe is casting a shadow over the way things are run in this country. Huge pharmaceutical companies are profiting from enormous price hikes on life saving medication, meaning essential drugs cannot be afforded by the NHS. EU laws that permit exclusive licenses to drugs manufacturers mean pharmaceuticals can hold the patents for specific drugs and place any price tag on their retail that they wish.

The working time directive is haunting the pages of the press again, with scores of UK doctors coming out against the impact the imposed 48 hour week has had on patient care. It’s suggested up to a quarter of junior doctors are leaving their training within 2 years, many to take up posts in other English speaking countries. The European legislation limiting individuals to a maximum working time has seen the NHS shake up rotas to make sure senior medics are on call during busy and stressful times, leaving junior doctors to work the majority of night shifts and weekends without proper supervision and guidance.

It’s remarkable to me that while high profile legislation such as the working time directive attracts media interest in retrospect, once the damage is done, very little is publicised prior to adoption, meaning rarely do members of the public get to protest against laws from Brussels before they are galvanised. Despite this, the European Commission, not content with media apathy, are seeking to revolutionise the President of the Commission’s communications staff to ensure Mr Barroso raises his profile across the Union. He will have a TV producer and photographer at hand 24 hours a day and a team of staff to monitor the blogosphere and quash any unpopular comment that may arise. All afforded by the taxpayer. The Commission will also pay journalists to follow Barroso on foreign trips. Yet this week in Parliament, the Commission has had the audacity to raise the issue of freedom of expression in the European media. It seems they are increasingly unhappy with certain state owned publications and insist that newspapers should be free from partisan patriarchs. That is despite having spent some eight million euros themselves on entertaining and “training” journalists, particularly in Ireland around the time of the illegal second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

http://vod.europarl.europa.eu/nasvod01/vod0409/2010/wm/VODUnit_20100906_21041600_21055300.wmv



Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Hard Times in Brussels

The days of bank staff packing their desks into trays and leaving work for the last time under a flurry of camera flashes may be gone, but the age of austerity now approaches, with news that food, fuel and, well, pretty much everything, is subject to a price hike while pay is frozen and more public service jobs cut.
Meanwhile the front page of FT Deutschland reported yesterday that EU Budegt Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski has suggested he is to put forward a range of options for DIRECT TAX to fund the EU from September. Possible taxes could include a tax on bank transactions and a tax on air travel. He is also quoted as saying about the UK rebate that "the justification...is much less convincing than it used to be" adding that "If the EU had more of its own revenues then transfers from national budgets could be reduced." He cited Germany as a country hoping to reduce their contribution *unsurprisingly I may add, as she currently pays in the most and ahead of the UK, is the primary net contributor. She has also recently been stung as the emergency purse when Eurozone economies get into trouble.
But DIRECT TAX? Do I need to repeat that?
Bad enough that the Labour Government handed back around a quarter of our rebate, to which we qualified by paying in far more than we receive in return. If we forego the rest of the rebate we can expect to pip Germany to pole position on being the bank of Europe. Meanwhile, next year when Romanians are entitled to free EU migration we can surely expect to be handing over even more jobs to non UK workers while writing out the cheques to improve their roads and welfare. We'll soon see the mettle of Cameron's pledges on so-called Referendum Locks. It will be interesting to see how much he packs below his Tory Chastity belt.
And to make matters worse, we have busted the EU for even more frivolous waste. UKIP revealed all Brussels officials and politicians can get Viagra for free if needed and can even claim for Heroin replacement Methadone under the European Commission scheme. They are also entitled to penile implants. Official guidelines for claims read: "Treatments with Viagra will from now on be reimbursable." The document also says drugs used for withdrawal and narcotics treatments for addicts can also be fully reimbursed "at the rate of 100 per cent for a maximum of six months."
Hard times indeed.



Monday, 12 July 2010

EU and hot air, now there's a familiar blend

It's the last week of activity for MEPs before Brussels closes down for the summer to reopen again in September, giving MEPs time to work in their constituencies. The dates aren't too dissimilar from school holidays, but wonder how many school children of today will be able to retire at 60 with a guaranteed, average healthy pension of £60,000, that's costing Britain some £135 million? So whilst they demand Europeans be realistic about having to work longer and retire on less, they make sure that they are exempt from this? Typical EU hypocrisy.

Meanwhile under EU regulations, foreign nurses can no longer be subject to competency tests in the UK, as this is deemed to breach EU law on the freedom of movement of workers. The Nursing and Midwifery Council have been told they will be SUED if the tests continue to be administered. This means thousands of NHS workers cold move to the UK and operate without prior checks on their fitness to perform in or healthcare sector.Rigoruous competence exams previously made sure foreign nurses were able to effectively treat patients in Britain according to our stringent healthcare rules. We have already seen a number of cases documented by the press where foreign medical staff have failed to diagnose and treat UK patients to the standards we expect, leading to huge downfalls in the delivery of care. I am not suggesting foreign medical staff are at all incompetent, bt they must be subject to the same watertight checks that apply to doctors and nurses that have been trained in the UK to assure patients of their ability to serve correctly.Without these tests it's even possible foreign nurses will no longer be required to show they have even looked after patients in the past three years It's frightening stuff.

And finally, if that's not enough hot air for you, it seems you may be producing your own if the latest imports approved by the EU end up on your breakfast table.
Camels milk from the UAE has passed the first stage of an EU approval to allow sale in British shops. The European Commission will send experts to assess milk producers in the Middle East in order to allow exports to EU countries as early as the start of next year, including camel chocolate, cheese, and ice cream. According to health experts, as well as its high mineral and vitamin content, research has suggested that antibodies in camels' milk can help fight diseases like cancer, HIV/Aids and Alzheimers.However I've also heard rumours that if it's not something you're familiar with, it wont half make you break wind...

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Voting Crime

Press Release John Bufton MEP for Wales

16/06/2010

***No Embargo***

EU DRIVING UK MAD!

Independent Drivers now laboured by un-necessary regulatory burdens because of EU hyper-regulation

John Bufton, UKIP MEP for Wales said today after a vote on the Bauer report:

“I’m really saddened that the Committee managed to get this piece of unnecessary regulation pushed through. The sort of bureaucracy being churned out by the EU is at the very least a gratuitous waste of time and money, and at worst a stranglehold on business and infringement of civil liberties.

“UKIP all voted to exclude independent drivers from this latest slice of EU over-governance. We are completely opposed to the uber-regulation coming out of Brussels and the barrage of laws made by a political class who know very little about earning a living in the real world.

“It’s absolutely disgusting that so many British MEPs voted in favour of these regulations, and would encourage those affected to challenge their local MEP on where they stood on this matter and who they believe they are actually representing – their constituents or the growing number of bureaucrats in Belgium.”

Notes to Editors:

Independent broadcast quality television and/or radio coverage of this story can be arranged free of charge via Quadrant. For TV interviews and other footage please contact Senior Producer Andrea Mott on 0032 (0) 496 381 402 or andrea-mott@quadrant.uk.com. For radio coverage please contact Producer/Journalist Georg von Harrach on 0032 (0) 495 205 801 or georg.vonharrach@quadrant.uk.com.

For further information, stills, or to arrange an interview with John Bufton MEP please contact:

Alexandra Phillips

Press Officer for John Bufton MEP

+44 7 888 66 7893

+4429 20 444 060

alex@johnbuftonmep.com

http://www.johnbufton.eu/“Hustles in Brusselshttp://hustlesinbrussels.blogspot.com/

Cloaks and Daggers

Another month, another Parliament in Strasbourg and another mass migration from Belgium to Eastern France of MEPs, assistants, lawyers, journalists and trunks and trunks of paperwork.
On the agenda for June is the Working Time Directive, this time manifesting itself in the sector of self employed drivers. The controversial 48 hour working week posited by the Commission has been kept out of UK law for the last decade due to a veto in the area of social affairs and employment. Yet following the accession of a new Commissioner for Social Affairs last year, there is pressure, particularly from the member states who have adopted the EU’s stringent policy on working time, to force the UK to kowtow to Brussels.
Extending the working time directive to cover self employed people is nonsensical. The policy is sold on the premise of protecting employee’s rights and therefore has no place in a self-employed framework. Yet the Committee would have you believe it was a matter of safety, disregarding regulation 561 which already covers driving time and is applicable to both large companies, small businesses and the self employed. This is instead a matter of advancing this unpopular legislation sector by sector.

Everything directly related to the business would be considered part of Working Time, for example, paperwork, maintenance and general administration. In large firms people are employed to do this, therefore administration time has no impact on driving time. Self employed drivers however must do their own administration and would find under the directive’s conditions little time left to do the driving itself.
I raised this issue in Parliament and will most certainly be voting to maintain the directive as it currently stands, and continue to fight against the expansion of the Working Time Directive, which acts more as a stranglehold on independent firms and arguably the right for people to choose the hours that they wish to work.

video

Also on the agenda this month is a discussion about the Schengen Information System. The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985 between five of the ten member states of the then European Community: Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. It allowed passport free travel between those countries involved and to date consists of 25 European countries, covering a population of over 400 million people and an area of more than one and a half square million miles. The UK as well as Ireland opted out of the agreement yet we do however participate in the Schengen Information System, which is a network of some half a million computers across the EU which share data on people, their movements and so forth in a bid to tackle the heightened possibility for crime that naturally come with border –free travel.

Currently Romania and Bulgaria are gearing up to ascend to the Schengen information system. Yet the question is whether adding more computers and more countries to the pack would jeopardise security further. Around a half of all computers at some point are victims of hacking. The booty for a computer criminal wishing to access such sensitive data is of course of immense value, and the more systems linked in, the greater the chance of access. Similarly, the passport free flow of people is not only convenient for businessmen and tourists traveling across the continent, but equally serves a growing population of traffickers and international crime lords. In order to combat this risk, the amount our everyday lives can be policed would most certainly have to deepen. Can we really be sure these countries are ready to adhere to the sort of technical standards demanded by such a sensitive system? Who will afford the development of their own networks? The current Schengen Information System relies heavily on the efficacy of each member state in monitoring and then sharing vital information. There is a great deal of trust involved, not only to do the job properly in each country, but to handle the data collected with respect and care.
Even though we never agreed to be part of Schengen, the necessity to cooperate with the information system due to visa free movement across the EU, means your data, as well as the data of people in 26 other countries, is accessible to people from Norway, to Greece and soon to Bulgaria and Romania.


video

Add to that a rather slimy rumour circulating the continental blogosphere about links between Jose Manuel Barroso, Commission President and EFG, Greece's No. 3 bank controlled by Greek billionaire Spiros Latsis on whose yacht Mr Barroso holidayed in recent times, a sin that saw even that nine-lived Mandelson lose his job, prior to another resurrection. This bank has been seemingly profiting from the Greek bail out
and Greece´s richest private banker, one Mr Latsis, who holds a 40 per cent stake in the Greece- Eurobank EFG Group.

And so I proposed during question hour a very reasonable question, that of whether this friendship could cause a conflict of interest. But just like a year 7 pupil trying to chastise the Headmaster, I was strictly informed that my question's insinuation was out of order and didn't warrant any sort of reply. A very cunning, and simple way to avoid sharing the true facts, one might assume.

Monday, 7 June 2010

- Politically speaking... with John Bufton, MEP

- Politically speaking... with John Bufton, MEP

A Tough Crowd, but they seem pleased enough

I've linked through to an article< I did for Wales Home, a popular largely political website where I will now have a monthly column.

Similarly I write regularly in the County Times, (see the post above) the Mid Wales Journal, Wrexham Evening leader, Abergavenny Chronicle and Cambrian news. Rather than rehash those columns, I will simply refer to them using the blog. Apologies for not updating sooner, but as you can tell I have been kept busy scribing for other publications|!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Friends in London, enemies in Brussels?

It seems we are still in the post election honeymoon period, with right and left wing newspapers desperate for ructions in the corridors of power at Westminster. But dig as they may, the Number Ten Press machine has so far successfully managed to hold the majority of criticisms at bay. But as soon as a sneeze goes unblessed a troupe of eager lobby reporters will splatter the pages with rumours and suggestions.

But perhaps they are barking up the wrong tree. A more fractious relationship is likely to be found in Brussels, where two sets of MEPs inhabit very different political groups in the European Parliament. Friends in Westminster but enemies in Europe makes little sense.

The Eurozone financial crisis is already causing ructions between Europhiles and Europhobes and rich and the poor member states, and could also see a face off between the Tories and the Lib Dems. Germany, always the stalwart of cooperation in Europe, are becoming increasingly vocal about bail outs and dependence on German prosperity. They do, afterall, have to host Eurovision next year!

The Greek bail out saw the invocation of Article 122 of the Lisbon Treaty, which cites natural disasters and exceptional circumstances as justifications for bailing out an ailing member state. Greek fiscal flippancy rather stretches the interpretation and application of this legislation, and would likely require a switch from unanimous to qualified majority voting over future bail-outs. This would amount to a stitch up for countries without the Euro, outnumbered by Eurozone states 16 to 11. The question is whether this would demand re-ratification of the constitutional treaty, something the Commission would hope to waiver at all costs, and the event of which would place the pen firmly in the hand of William Hague. It would bring the main bone of contention for the Westminster coalition to the fore: our relationship with the EU. Cameron’s pledge to offer referenda on certain European legislation could well be put to the test.

Europe’s President, Herman Van Rompuy, has come out with rather spectacular comments about the nature of single currency, suggesting European citizens were ill informed that sharing a single currency was more than just making life easier when doing business or travelling abroad. In his own words he stated that “Being in the euro zone means, monetarily speaking, being part of one ‘Euroland’.” I hate to say we told you so, but we did.

But it’s not just the single currency that drags a country’s politics down into a common quagmire of Uber-governance. The £470billion in taxpayer-funded loans or guarantees is yet to quell the financial haemorrhaging of certain Eurozone countries and is having a knock on effect on Britain, shaving some £33billion pounds off the face value of British companies as the markets continue to bet against the Euro and our main trading partners. The old adage about putting all your eggs in one basket is startling apparent.

On top of this Britain is likely to face a new wave of EU migration as plans to pass visa free movement of Bosnians and Albanians are awaiting clearance from the European Parliament. Just as the new Government draws up plans on immigration, job creation and so forth, the likelihood of unpredicatable numbers of jobless eastern Europeans coming our way underpins the fragility of UK sovereignty in the face of an increasingly federalist EU.

However, there is also some more positive news emanating from Brussels this week. First of all, a victory on the situation of electronic identity tagging for sheep, the costly and complicated scheme forced upon farmers at a time when agriculture is suffering under the weight of recession. I campaigned long and hard to block the legislation, and then mitigate its affects after it was steam-rolled through. There will be a three year amnesty on cross compliance penalties to allow farmers to adjust to the new system. A small, but very important, victory for Wales.

And on the same note another success came in the news that proposals I fought on removing legislation allowing independent car repairers access to technical information have been scrapped. This means car manufacturers cannot use warranties to bind you to dealerships. Small independent garages must by law have access to all the data and parts they need to repair your vehicle. Without this important exemption in competition regulation for the motor industry, you would find yourself bound to taking your car to costly dealerships for repair where manufacturers could charge whatever they want for maintaining your vehicle.

Protecting UK interests in Europe is rather like practising your serve at the tennis club. Increasing numbers of shots are fired at a faster and faster pace, and all we can do is just keep slogging them out of court.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

CON-DEM-NATION

As the camera trained upon the two lecterns in the rose garden of 10 Downing Street, panning across the congregation of journalists in two seating blocks, one almost expected Mr and Mr Camerclegg to come bouncing up the aisle under a flurry of confetti to Mendelssohn's Wedding March.
What we got wasn't far off a Civil Partnership ceremony.
But the question is, how can a coalition of Lib Dems and Conservatives operate in Brussels when the two inhabit such diametrically different groups? Friends in Westminster, enemies in Europe, would not make sense if both purport to work in the interests of the country.
Add to that the fact that the Greek Bailout has seen the invocation of article 122 of the Lisbon Treaty, which cites natural disasters and exceptional circumstances as justification for a bail out (an intellectual stretch if you ask me) would also see the need to switch from unanimous voting to qualified majority voting over future bail-outs (a stitch up, considering Eurozone countries outnumber non-Euro member states 16 to 11). Surely this would demand re-ratification of the dreaded Lisbon Treaty, with the pen firmly in the hand of William Hague.
The bone of contention, battle ground and lamb to slaughter or Gaza strip of this coalitition is our membership of the EU.
But will we get a referendum?

Monday, 10 May 2010

Anarchy,,,Or something like it

anarchy from M.L. anarchia, from Gk. anarkhia "lack of a leader" noun of state from anarkhos "rulerless" from an- "without" + arkhos "leader"


So this is it. This is what the punks of the eighties screamed for. The
restless rumbling of an underbelly of discontent has broken through to the surface and caused constitutional breakdown in the UK. The voters said "no" to Government, and were left, leaderless and in the wilderness.

But here we are, heading to work on a Monday morning wondering when the election coverage will be over so we can have some "real"news back on telly, and God forbid another election be called, which would put the schedule for airing The Apprentice back yet more months.

If this were Thailand, France or even America, (actually, any other place in the world that is not The British Isles), there would at least be a restless crowd in coloured T-Shirts waving placards in Trafalgar Square. As it stands all the riots, petrol bombs, chants and mob rule are reserved for Athens, that cornerstone of Western Philosophy and the ancient home of Western Civilization, because people have been told their pensions will be reduced and they must start paying tax.

What's wrong with you, UK? We have no Government! Tear up your council tax bills, take a day off and go guffawing in the rare spot of sunshine we are set to enjoy this week, exploiting your Post Lockean civil liberties in our Constitution-less country!*

But something tells me this is not in the British psyche. And something tells me it never has been.

When Henry VIII drew up a whole new religion for the country for his own convenience, tore down monasteries, chopped the heads of his wives and ate so many swans his waistline demanded its own postcode, the good people of the country probably just stuck at digging their potatoes, shearing their sheep and postulating what the following week's weather had in store. Similarly when Queen Victoria demanded prudency be applied to lounge furniture, with every table and chair in the country forbidden from flashing a naked ankle, we all covered up like Quakers and continued to toil away at our work like boil in the bag kippers with nothing more than a mild grumble.

In fact, the most social outrage I have seen in recent years was over foxes.

So is the problem the Politicians, or is this just a reflection of a peculiar British mindset that regards Politics as a sort of ineffectual ceremonial production absent from the concerns or real life?

John Milton once observed that "Anarchy is the sure consequence of tyranny; or no power that is not limited by laws can ever be protected by them"

I guess therefore that Governance is an inevitability, as is, so it would seem, stability. Perhaps it is the product of centuries of Parliament, the creation of which witnessed the very last Civil War on British soil, that has led to the accepting apathy of the British voterate. We will have a Government. They will rule us. And life is unlikely to be very different from how it is now.

The irony in this observation is that, actually, scratch below what the papers tell us we think, and you will find an unidentified yet unerring trust in our Government. Yes, you read that right. Trust.

Because you know, and I know, that whatever sort of Government is formed from the wreckage of the 2010 election, death, disease, poverty, starvation, conflict and persecution are unlikely to be on the menu.

We are one of the only countries in the world that does not automatically label our police force as corrupt. One of the only countries where, although we may grumble about the NHS, we are safe in the knowledge that if we are struck down by a bus tomorrow, one thing we can be guaranteed is not receiving a massive medical bill in the post. One of the only countries where literacy is pretty much a social guarantee. One of the only countries where racism takes the form of a one-eyed, Oxford educated, Gruffalo lookalike who's allowed to appear on prime time TV and use the word "indigenous" with caution.

What I'm trying to say is, actually, the reason why this anarchy is slipping by unnoticed is because it has no place in Britain, whatsoever, in the pejorative sense.

So looking today at the European Commission's Eleventh Hour rescue package for the Euro, worth
750bn, of which Britain has ended up indirectly having to commit UK taxpayer's cash (it's rather useful that there's an election going on in the UK, without resolution, isn't it Mr Barosso?) it strikes me as even more appalling that the 27 member states are having to cowtow to Greek debt problems brought upon by poor Governance.

Look at us! We have debt worth more than Sir Elton John's wardrobe. We have no Government. We have the most overcrowded cities in Europe and a couple of million immigrants sponging up our spare cash. But we're able to hold it all together. In fact, falling apart hasn't even crossed our minds. Yet our European counterparts plot revolt in the playground the minute rumours start to flow about milk money
cuts.

Do we really want to share laws, ideals and policies (and our cash!) with these countries, when we have demonstrated without celebration or expectation of praise that we are the most sorted society in the Western World, even in times of constitutional crisis?

It's like our mothers used to warn us, it does no good to be associating with a bad crowd. They will only drag you down to their level.


*
Locke used the claim that men are naturally free and equal as part of the justification for understanding legitimate political government as the result of a social contract where people in the state of nature conditionally transfer some of their rights to the government in order to better insure the stable, comfortable enjoyment of their lives, liberty, and property. Since governments exist by the consent of the people in order to protect the rights of the people and promote the public good, governments that fail to do so can be resisted and replaced with new governments.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Heavy Handed Governance

I am again to take umbrage at the way Brussels want to rule with an iron fist.
Yet this time it's about a rather controversial topic - smacking.

You may recall I wrote about the EU ordering the UK to give prisoners the vote the other month. Well, the issue of smacking is not too distant from the controversies of corporal punishment in that it all boils down to so-called human rights an the UK's relationship with them.

Few naive Brits I would imagine perceive their country to be backdated, illiberal, even cruel or abusive to rights. I think a lot of people, foreigners included, would see Britain as one of the most tolerant, modern and liberal countries in the World. Yet a great deal of what is entrenched within the norms of British culture are now being overturned and dragged out into the open by Europe and condemned. Are we really an abusive country?

When it comes to corporal punishment, or "smacking" which seems to me a more apt label, people are split down the middle. Children's charities would say adults are better protected by law than children and that it should be a legal matter to outline that you must not hit a child. Some parents on the other hand would shudder at the possibility that they could be criminally charged for the way they discipline their child. And a great deal more would say, well, what is the point in even raising this as it is totally unpoliceable.

In fact, in Wales, the Assembly have already tried to pass legislation on smacking only to find it blocked by Westminster on the basis of devolved policy areas.

The UK are one of the only nations in the EU that does not ban smacking outright. The policy we have here is that it is outlawed in public spaces and schools but not in the family home.

Interestingly you will see that France, with it's big red landmass, does not outlaw corporal punishment at all.

For me, the question again boils down to, not whether or not we should be having the debate, but that it should not be up to another country or political body to tell the UK how to legislate in this area. The reason I say this is because so much of how we behave, what we consider decent, and how we apply legislation that turns particular actions into an offense is based upon culturally relative maxims. By this I mean what is good and right in one country is not perceived as good and right in another, and talk of blanket human rights are both infringing, dangerous and are best left to religion. Of course there are standards of behaviour and a standard of living we believe everyone is entitled to, but when particular "rights" start being turned into legislation, here is where we have a problem.

It is blanket rights that give most prisoners a more comfortable standard of living than the working man. It is rights that see rapists fight deportation, sex offenders ask to be removed from the register and migrants claim your garden shed as their home.

So what could be the downside of legislation on corporal punishment?
First of all let's not assume that children are all naive. There are many children and young offenders who would use such a ban against victims of crime, turning them into perpetrators of violence. False accusations would fly, costly cases and relationships between parent and child would be open to policing. Many parents struggling to deal with unruly children or immensely difficult situations could suddenly find themselves reported for child abuse.

Mild smacking is permitted under a "reasonable chastisement" defense against common assault in Britain. But contact that causes a physical manifestation, such as bruising, swelling, cutting, carries with a jail sentence of up to 5 years. But in the views of the Council of Europe deputy secretary, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, this constitutes reasonable violence against children.

Whether you are a smacker or not, whether you were smacked or not, whether you agree with smacking or not, it's a very difficult and sensitive issue where the rights of the child and protection of the parent's powers must be balanced. And Europe dictating our legislation from afar is the one clear way to make sure that such equilibrium is never met.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Embracing modern technology through necessity

Apologies for a long period since posts. It's so unbelievably busy in UK politics, and trying to mix that with the Brussels agenda would mean needing 34 hours in a day!
It's been chaos and confusion with the ash cloud grounding flights and Parliament ballsing up this month's voting.



I've grilled Baroness Ashton over her views on the Falklands ahead of an EU summit with Latin America.



I've attacked the Commission over Common Asylum Policy.



And have opposed the transfer of millions of peoples personal and banking details from the EU to America.



And that's as well as radio, tv, election launch, magazines, papers and general political heave-ho.

So please excuse my absence, and rather than allow me to write an epic blog post of everything I have said or done, let the power of multi-platform media give you verbatim all of the week's action! Feel free to comment on what you see and hear

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Cardiff Yacht Club sees it's best launch yet


Yesterday we launched the UKIP Manifesto in Wales at Cardiff Yacht Club. Lord Pearson came across to speak, and I also had a little podium time.

Below is pretty much what I said:


How can they afford it all?

That’s the question being asked to all the parties.

They can’t.

They won’t.

Their promises are all empty.

Totally and utterly meaningless.

To pretend that the UK Government is the master of our country’s destiny is a deception.

Schools, post offices, hospitals, the law, the economy, business, trade, agriculture.

Everything in some way is connected to Brussels.

Westminster have so few powers left to enforce policy, it’s all just talk.

That’s why the central issue in this election must be membership of Europe.

UKIP are the only party to represent the majority view on this.

Repeatedly the British public show in polls and debates they do not want to be controlled by Brussels. Bearing in mind that the level of control the European Union exercise over us is heavily concealed, I am certain that figure would be far, far higher if the British Government had been honest with it’s people.

The Tories pledge to cut £6bn pounds of Government spending next year.

They will take this from your pay packet, close your local hospital, strip down the police, and lean on then taxpayer to not only pay off the debt, but happily accept this imposed frugality just after they’ve all been caught in Westminster unscrupulously filling their pockets with your money!

None of the parties are suggesting we would save £10 billion a year alone in EU membership currently affording schools, post offices, hospitals, new businesses, better roads, trade and agriculture in the other 26 member states.

You pay for all that.

Why are they giving your money to them, when we so desperately need it here?

Why should you, the British taxpayer, have to level off wealth across Europe, when you’re struggling to make ends meet?

That’s why the UK has never seen a referendum on Europe. We would all want out. But it’s not going to happen unless you vote UKIP.

Immigration.

Without doubt a key issue in this year’s election.

Under the labour Government, millions of people came to live in the UK, to enjoy a standard of living paid for by you. Every person living here, sending money back to their home country, is plundering the real economy, money earned and spent in Britain, like a constantly dripping tap.

The immigration policies of the other parties are like saying “we’ll monitor who comes in through the back door, but leave the front door wide open for anyone in Europe who wishes to come.”

They mean nothing at all while free movement of people in the European Union continues to see thousands file into the UK everyday looking to enjoy our higher wages, child support, free medical care, free education and all the other things our country has to offer.

Yes, we believe the UK is great and yes, lots of people want to come and live here, but it’s your country, but we won’t be able to support ourselves if the population gets much bigger.

That’s why we want a five year freeze on anyone wanting to settle here.

There’s not enough space.

There are not enough jobs.

There are not enough hospital beds, school places, social housing and money to go around.

We spend millions on translation costs, welfare support to children who don’t even live in the UK and have seen our national identity crumble at the mercy of political correctness.

Who are we?

What will we become?

We are told if we leave the European Union we’ll be nothing.

Who says?

We have the 6th largest economy in the world.

London is the global financial capital.

We are a member of the G8 and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

It is Europe who needs us, not us who need them.

This is clear even by glancing at the Brussels budget: we put far more in than anybody and get far less back.

Westminster are giving your money to Brussels, who give it to people who live thousands of miles away.

I’m going to be totally straight with you.

It simply has to stop.

Some 120,000 directives from Brussels shape your daily life.

You won’t see any of these appearing in the manifestos of the other parties because there is absolutely nothing at all a UK Government can do if we don’t leave Europe.

The hours you work

The price you pay to heat your house.

The food you buy and eat.

Even the very laws that govern how you are expected to live are now made outside the UK.

It takes one judge in Luxembourg to overturn a British legal ruling and hundreds of years of British justice are reduced to nothing.

In truth, Westminster has about as much power as a corridor prefect in school.

The Headmaster lives in Brussels.

The true cost of the EU, per year, is around one hundred and twenty billion pounds a year.

That’s twenty times more than the Tories say they want to cut by dipping into your pockets.

If we left Europe, not only would we be able to control our future once more, every man, woman and child would directly benefit from all the money we could put back into the lives of each and every individual who contributes to life in the UK.

But we’re not a party that simply wants to leave Europe.

It is necessary to do this first and foremostly, but there are plenty more areas in which we represent the unrepresented.

We speak everyone who feels that nobody speaks for them.

We believe in selective education, nuclear power, an end to so-called devolution and unnecessary over governance.

We are committed to policies that would directly affect Wales.

Policies that will strengthen communities, enrich lives, protect individual interests and inspire the young.

Policies that actually mean something.

Take nuclear power. We have always been proponents of this highly efficient, advanced, renewable energy as opposed to inefficient, costly, unreliable and ugly wind turbines that blight the horizon.

It may have been fashionable to stick turbines everywhere but it was premature and silly.

Look at the announcement of a new power station at Wylfa? This will bring hundreds of much needed jobs to the area and provide renewable electricity for thousands and thousands of homes.

Now let’s look at devolution.

We are the only party in Wales that says no to the Welsh Assembly.

No to more jobs for the boys.

No to costly over governance and make believe democracy.

No to serving the political elite.

If almost half of people in Wales agree with us, why are there no Assembly members whatsoever supporting the views of half the country’s population, whom they are supposed to represent?

Because it means more money for them, even if it comes straight out of your pockets.

We would retain the National Assemblies but replace the representatives with local MPs from the same nation.

Most people in Wales are currently represented by around 8 elected politicians each with 20 more Assembly seats likely to be created under devolution plans.

This is wasteful and unnecessary governance, watering down politics and creating apathy when the general public don’t understand who represents them and how.

Our manifesto is straight talking, honest, clear and simple and we believe it speaks on behalf of the majority of people who say the policies of the three main parties bear little resemblance to the issues that matter to them.

We want to protect the lowest earners from jobs tax and encourage more people to leave the welfare state and find employment.

We want to get rid of the unnecessary quangos and the related non-jobs that define our economy and are under threat from Westminster cuts.

One in four people are paid directly out of taxpayers money.

It is a false economy.

We want instead to get these people into jobs in skilled manufacturing and business, created by scrapping EU red tape and attracting industries back to the UK.

We no longer make anything here, and that is a dangerous, post recession in a global economy.

We also believe we should shift focus away from Europe and towards the Commonwealth.

We would establish free trade with the 53 other commonwealth countries.

The Commonwealth has been shamefully betrayed and neglected by previous Governments, yet we share a common language, legal and democratic systems, account for a third of the world’s population and a quarter of all it’s trade, including countries like India, soon to be the world’s second largest economy.

We will be tough on crime.

Under the existing Human Rights Act the privileges of the criminal are often put above the needs of the victim.

This has got to stop.

By leaving the EU we can once again enforce strict and realistic measures for tackling crime and supporting communities.

We want to rebalance the law to protect people defending their homes, ensure life means life, double prison places, introduce boot camps for young offenders and allow national referenda on controversdial public law.

We are proud of the NHS and believe high quality healthcare should be available to all.

We wouldn’t cut frontline services but substantially reduce NHS waste and bureaucracy and the stranglehold of targets that jeopardise patient care.

We want to restore free dental checks and eye tests for every citizen in the UK.

We believe in a strong and varied education system, giving choice back to parents and students.

We would retain existing Grammar schools and build new ones, insist on higher qualifications for teachers, scrap the nonsensical target of getting half of all young people into universities when apprenticeships and professional training is better suited to a greater majority.

We would return to the grants system as opposed to loans that leave so many unemployed graduates in debt.

Our benefits system is out of control.

We want to simplify it and get people off long term welfare and back into work.

We also want to make sure welfare support goes to people who need it and people who can prove they are living in Britian.

By leaving Europe we could have a thriving agricultural sector, a protected fishing industry without waste and overfishing.

We could have open trade, exploring innovative ways to attract industries to the country that would become the backbones of proud and prosperous communities.

People in Britian have lost faith, not just in politics, but in their own country.

While so mnay people are clamouring to get in, more and more of us are becoming disenfranchised by remote governance from Brussels and self-intersted polticians in Westminster.

We pledge to put country before party.

We pledge to put the UK before Europe.

We pledge to put you first.

Think you. Think UK. Think UKIP.