Friday, 15 January 2010

Stuck in Transition.

2010 has now kicked off with the introduction of new Commissioners and the opportunity to grill them over the issues that will carry weight over the coming year. I have spoken at length before over EU Cohesion Policy and the Structural funds currently received by Wales. After 2013, funding to the tune of £200 million a year will be stopped. My concern is what sort of arrangements will be made to make sure that funding transition will be as pain free as possible.

A leaked draft document before Christmas revealed plans to cut social and development funding to Europe’s poorest regions in order to afford policies such as Climate Change.

New Regional Development Commissioner Johannes Hahn assured the hearing that transitional funding would be provided to protect those regions currently qualifying for support.

I also challenged the Commissioner on €2.7 billion overspend on regional funding in Spain, Italy and Portugal, as ruled by the EU court of auditors. The answer was lacking an admission that such a vast fiscal waste during hard times was completely unacceptable and instead focused upon positives, but at least the matter will be investigated. I will amke sure of that.

The EU does not have its own money. That money is paid in by the member states, some more than others. Here in the UK we already have a sore deal and I think it’s important that we have a referendum on our relationship with the European Union. But in the meantime whilst we continue to pay in billions of pounds, I think it’s important that regions like Wales fight for their slice of the pie. Until policy is put back into our own hands, we must make sure that the EU takes notice of us, rather than take advantage of us.

Monday, 11 January 2010

All Is Fair In Love And War?

I have never quite followed this old adage. In truth, nothing is fair in neither love nor war? Does the state of continual injustice that wartime brings thus move the goalposts on fairness? Blacks and whites become murky acceptable greys?
Oh Baroness Ashton would think so!
The new EU Foreign Policy Chief faced a grilling from Parliament today,with her former membership of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament(CND) brought up once again. Speculation that she received monies from Moscow, who at the time were the "enemy" of the West, have been rabidly suppressed. Concealing links with Soviet Russia and Communism is a must in an organisation doing it's best to disguise the fact that in many ways it is the Eastern Bloc all over again. Did she still support unilateral CND? When did she change her mind?
Her answers were evasive and opaque. Instead she stated that what was relevant in the 1970s was not relevant in 2010. Sounds a bit like an admittance doesn't it?
But why is this not relevant? Why does Ashton think she can work for the enemy 30 years back and then take on the role of the European Union's Foreign Policy supremo without acknowledging these prior links? Why is someone with her past even at the helm of united foreign policy. Why do we even need a united foreign policy?
Any comments on the issue would be welcome!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A Sensible Voice on Immigration

I have commented before that amidst talks on climate change, sustainable resources, immigration and economy politicians are failing to talk about the elephant in the room. Population. The latest man to step up and talk sense is the Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.

There is one other man who is an ardent campaigner on the subject, Sir David Attenborough, who has not only been vocal on the subject in his television roles but is committed to action personally, as patron of the Optimum Population Trust. In a recent series he examined the effect an increasing global population could have

For me it's simple. Too many people equals not enough resources. Not enough resources equals problems. But the situation is not the same across the world. In Spain for example, the population is shrinking. In other European countries too. But in our own country, and in the world as a whole, more and more people are struggling to live on a finite planet.

The issue is a complicated one. Regulation on childbirth as is enacted in China is widely regarded as breaching human rights. Immigration has also become a twisted issue, entangled in race, religion and identity. Yet these issues in themselves are similarly the product of a burgeoning population.

UKIP are the only party with a clear policy on the issue
. We are not afraid to be the bravest party and stand up and offer what everyone else is too scared to say. It's not about discrimination and it's not about uprooting hoards of people. It's about imposing a moratorium allowing Britain to stop, think, readjust and catch her breath.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


The New Year is upon us, and Europe is largely covered by a blanket of snow. "Coldest winter ever" I hear them cry. The disappointing summers and icy winters only reinforce in my mind that something about the climate change argument is amiss!

Without doubt up and down the country we'll see a scrabble for salt. At least we had our starter for ten of snow before Christmas when councils learned the hard way. I'm sure many of us can cast our minds back to a time when snow didn't mean a half day at work. When kids trudged to school in cold sodden shoes, trains ran through blizzards and people woke up half an hour early to scrape their cars and clear their drives. You would think judging by today's reaction we were in fact a central African savanna the way we receive snow.

The whole Northern Hemispehre has had it's fair share of the white stuff this year; in the American capital Washington had 2 foot of snow, the largest snowfall ever recorded in a single December day. Londoners, famed for their steely resolve, saw an inch fall and said "I think I will work a half day!"

Why is it that trains run across Siberia but your commuter route to work can't cope with a centimeter of snow? It's preparedness. Every time we've been faced with a high snowfall or a cold snap in recent years Britain has ground to a halt. We have the necessary salt reserves but cannot seem to mobilise our local authorities to make preparatory arrangements. Let me explain why.

If you were living off a yearly allowance, into which you had to factor all daily running costs, and were forced to implement efficiencies, what would you drop? You couldn't stop paying for your daily needs - accommodation, food, electricity, water. But you might consider say not going to the dentist. Most years you do, but this year you can't afford it, so hopefully there's nothing wrong with your teeth. Councils must work on the same strategies. Why spend hundreds of thousands on stockpiling salt when street lighting, schools and roads must be afforded?

Every spring we start our new financial year. People like to clean their houses and traditionally in the Christian Calendar the pantry is emptied before a period of fasting. You might look at your bank accounts and decide you need to hone down your spending. Over the course of a lifetime you pick up direct debits, standing orders, loans and debts until your outgoings almost outweigh what is being paid in. Our economy is much the same. The national debt, the recession, the NHS all need constant funding and should not be put on the backburner during a time of frugality. The only way to increase funds is to raise taxation, and expect the people suffering the most to stump up the cost of running the country. So this Spring we will see a new Government at the helm, and already we are hearing promises and retorts as to how that money will be saved. How taxes will be fair and how wages will be protected. But when I cast my eye down the balance sheet there's one big expenditure that could easily be chopped, quicker than your subscription to Sky TV, half of whose channels you never even watch.

Why then do we pay more than £50 million a day into the EU when so little is given to us in return? £50 million that could build a new school a day. £50 million that could afford the treatment of cancer patients who do not qualify for care under their local NHS Trust. £50 million that could fund better support for our returning soldiers. £50 million that could be pumped into farming, invested into enterprises, used to fund industry.

Britain no longer makes anything. We relinquished the last bastion of economic independence when we shut our mines. Today we export very little and the majority of our manufacturing comes from foreign firms. Yet at the same time we are handing over control of our industries, our farming, The City, fishing and everything else to Europe, a continent to which we only partly feel associated and who throughout history have been both our greatest allies and enemies. We are paying this Union far more money than we could ever hope to get out and using the prosperity our nation earned over centuries to fund those poorer countries who are more likely to represent the future of manufacturing than ourselves.

To me it's simple. We take stock of what we have left before we palm it all off to Brussels, we hold it tight in our hands, we remember what the British were great at - organisation, cooperation, quick thinking and determination that made our little island a world leader. We stop mistaking more politicians for democracy. We stand side by side again, as four nations bound by a common spirit. We forget about L'Union Europeen and focus once more on Royaume Uni. We forget about European wealth and focus on our Commonwealth. We bring back industries that bind communities together and put money back into our economy. And hopefully in the process we save enough to give our local councils proper budgets to make my community, your village, his town and her city a better place to live. And we might even be able to put a bit to one side to salt our roads next December.