Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

Due to it being my busiest few weeks at work, and because of Christmas I shall be off the blog for a week or so.

I want thank everybody who has visited this blog during its short life, and wish you, and your families a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

I look forward to picking up next year, and seeing if I can summon from within myself the intellectual acumen, and absorbing wit that encourages debate and the exchange of opinions & ideas on so many of my favourite blogs that I read elsewhere on the interweb.

Merry Christmas.
Daniel

Christmas This Year

I was just preparing a post before I sign off temporarily for Christmas, which I shall post in a moment. In writing that post I paused for a moment to think about those who will not be having a great Christmas this year. Initially my thoughts turned to the McCann family, but of course there are so many others who will not have a great Christmas.

So saving any sanctimonious message from me, and if you should feel so inclined, please take a moment to check out these web pages, and if you are not so poor that you have some money spare two days before Christmas, then please donate at the appropriate site, (none of which are privately or Professionally connected to myself or this blog). Alternatively, if you can't face another Christmas TV schedule, the below pages have suggestions of plenty of ways you could help by donating your time. Hopefully, the oxygen of publicity from my hundreds of thousands of readers, [ahem], will also help in a small way this Christmas.

Please have a look at the below, which have been included in no particular order. Feel free to include your choices of worthy charities that might like to attract some attention this Christmas in the comments of this post.

http://www.findmadeleine.com/2008/

http://sikhcess.com/ecom.asp?pg=involved&gclid=CJ-SytfC15cCFYoH3godTHZxDA

http://www2.salvationarmy.org.uk/html/christmas/index.htm?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=[salvation+army]&utm_campaign=Brand

http://www.barnardos.org.uk/

http://www.nspccwishes.org.uk/donate/?wa_chan=advertising&wa_src=googleppc&wa_cmp=nspccwishes08&wa_crt=xmas%20nspcc%20donation&gclid=CMHq1_3C15cCFUob3godRnJCCg

http://www.childline.org.uk/Pages/default.aspx

https://www.raysofsunshine.org.uk/?gclid=CNSno-_D15cCFRU6EAodqGuYDg

http://www.rainbows.co.uk/?gclid=CKOgtKHE15cCFSI7EAodvGIXDg

http://www.asbah.org/

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Election Thoughts (1)

Lots of twists and turns this week, and there have been nudges and winks indicating that there will be, or won't be, or will be or won't be......... a General Election in February.

Twists and turns isn't the start of it, on two occasions this week I have sat down and tried to put some thoughts onto the blog about where this all might be leading, but news kept breaking taking the story in a different direction.

I do not think there will be an election in February, I of course can not be certain, but I wouldn't completely rule out an election in 2009. By early 2010, general consensus is (for what ever that is worth) that the economy will be bottoming out and the pain of the credit crunch will hitting families hard. Additionally, having run down the clock on a full five year term, Labour know the public psyche recall Brown "bottling it" in 2008.

Having said that, February 2009 could be, just maybe, the best possible time to have an election, if you are a Labour MP, Minister or of course Prime Minister. Look ahead, in your own mind to what we know, or strongly suspect will happen next year, and as the year goes on the news will just keep getting worse and worse for Mr Brown and Labour. Local and EU elections which will [probably] be bad news for Labour, a second Irish referendum on The Lisbon Constitutional Treaty will rightly bring a poor spotlight on Gordon Brown and on the EU, increasing unemployment, declining £, lower returns on savings, increasing public debt. And of course from February Mr Brown will have to curtail use of his favourite line about our economic problems stemming from the US, or risk being the first European leader to fall out with President Obama.

So on that rationale, February starts to look good, get it in before all of the above sets in, and there are potential benefits as well. Mr Brown will be absolutely aching to be the first world leader to get to the White House, and if he can, he will be writing his own headlines in early February. An unknown will be the performance of the High Street over Christmas and the January sales, if based on turn-out at my local shopping centre last week, Mr Brown can be spinning about his VAT cut stimulating Christmas Sales. However, if based on my local shopping centre today, he will it will not be good news, and the Conservatives will have something tangible to add to their assault on The PMs economic record.

I suspect that because February could be circled as a possible time to go before things get worse, Peter Mandleson, and some in his circle will have engineered a few stories and leaks to see what the polls will say. Polls do tend to return different results when an Election is looming. Especially, when the poll is asking respondents what issues they most care about, these will be the key policy areas. It is hard to see anything topping the Economy as the key factor, especially for young families.

However despite it all. Despite reckless borrowing and debt levels to fund yet more Public Expenditure, despite the possibility that Labour might just be able to squeak it in February, I don't think Gordon Brown will go ahead with it. I honestly think that the Prime Minister has concerns about how he will be perceived when electioneering. He will have to go around middle England and ask those people that he has taxed and regulated the hardest to vote for their local Labour MP when the mere sight of Gordon Brown is likely to have the opposite effect. I suspect, whether he would admit it or not that Gordon Brown views Middle England as his natural enemy, his polar opposite and I do not think he will be able to bring himself to go pandering for their votes. Instead, I think he will take one more year acting the role of statesman, travelling the world and seeking our bigger summits. Come 2010 there will probably be a juicy EU job on the table for him, in return for his implementation of the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty in the UK.

OK - all that being said, assume I am wrong for a minute; because if the idea of an election is being gently floated, if they decide to go for it, they will HAVE TO go for it... and I want to play out some more thoughts.

There is one area that might bring results for Labour, and I think it is an area they have moved the chess pieces on in the last year. A little over a year ago, the Conservative Party had two things going for them, a strong shadow leadership team fronted by David Cameron and George Osborne and the fact that the Conservatives are not in anyway associated to Gordon Brown.

A long holiday and a return to cabinet for Peter Mandleson has seen a rejuvenated PM and a more organised, more crafted message. Peter Mandleson has transformed the Conservative approach. They were briefly in the ascendancy, now they do seem to be very cautious, perhaps too cautious to attack Labour policy. My opinion is that there is a real fear that if they come out and say anything at all, they leave themselves in danger of being "SPUN". Thus, in recent weeks, there seems to be only David Cameron making appearances on MSM news, with careful narration following on from other key Conservatives. I am not sure if centralising the Conservative message will work for them. It may work well for Labour, but that is a core trait for them; 'Solidarity' and 'Co-ordinated Communication' on defined issues. The Conservative strength has always been the ability to be the party that can accept more than one line on most matters, it is why the Conservatives tend to be the party that best protects free speech and individual liberties.

Peter Mandleson immediately targeted the Cameron/Osborne alliance, and he has had some success there. George Osborne's position as Shadow Chancellor is under scrutiny. On Conservative and right-wing blogs the debate seems to have moved past if George Osborne should be replaced, to who should replace him. A double whammy hit for Peter Mandleson because the person most floated by Conservative Bloggers (and the Labour Trolls) is Ken Clarke.

Now, I am not a fan of Ken Clarke. I have declared on this blog in its short existence that I am an undecided voter as far as the next election is concerned, but if Ken Clarke is the Shadow Chancellor I will be quick to say I will definitely not be voting Conservative. I do not share the view that Ken Clarke is a "Heavyweight", some of his speeches have been very monotone and uninspiring. Ken Clarke voted against the Tory Line on Lisbon, and appeared with Tony Blair in support of adopting the Euro, which was damaging to William Hagues Conservatives. I do not think I am alone with my assessment, and though I am only speaking to my opinions, I do think that there are a lot other Conservatives who feel the same. I think it is too late to replace George Osborne and not hand Labour another five years; but if he is replaced, George Osborne needs to go to CC HQ for and get started on General Election Strategy and Planning. And if he is replaced, Ken Clarke is not the answer. If George Osborne has to go then I can see no one other than John Redwood being able to take over and be able to show up the Governments economic record, and being widely accepted by likely voters. Despite Ken Clarke and John Redwood having respectively chequered history within the party, when John Redwoods name is floated, there is no instant riposte. This might suggest that his past leadership bids have not left a negative effect on voters. A quick scan of the right-wing blogosphere will also show much admiration for John Redwoods economic predictions on his blog.

Ken Clarke is not someone I would want to see as shadow chancellor - or as chancellor, and despite me being a little bewildered how some Conservatives seem to think he is the missing piece of the puzzle, he would be a good addition to the shadow cabinet. But he would need to have a remit that does not cross into Economic or European matters. If the aim of David Cameron is to have the strongest Shadow Cabinet possible, then Ken Clarke, John Redwood and David Davis should be included.

David Cameron should get someone in the shadow cabinet to shadow Peter Mandleson full-time. Labour would simply be unelectable if Peter Mandleson was to again leave the cabinet under the full storm of a media frenzy. David Davis could return and fill this role, and would probably enjoy and excel in such a role.

David Cameron has done a good job of getting Conservatives of varying opinions to function reasonably well as a shadow cabinet, and has largely brought an end to infighting between Conservatives through the media. It would be too easy for Labour to turn the Conservative Party against itself if Ken Clarke was Shadow Chancellor, in fact, I suspect Conservatives would not need Labour help there. But Ken Clarke is best when he has a challenge, he does garner support from a small section of the Conservative party that seemingly can reach.

If pushed for predictions as to what I have written I would say this.
1. No General Election in February.
2. George Osborne not replaced as Shadow Chancellor.
3. Gordon will be invited to the White House, but with other EU Leaders - spoiling his golden photo-op.
4. Opinion Polls will widen the Conservative Lead in January.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Breaking news from the BBC 10pm News

The reason the "Millennium Bridge" in London was prone to swaying was NOT a design flaw. It has, after a lengthy and costly investigation been attributed to the forces those people walking over the bridge were exerting.

....and i didn't just make that up.

Working Time Directive

I wasn't intending to post right now as I am on a short lunch, but just seen this about the EU Parliament voting 421 to 273 to scrap the UK's opt-out on the working time directive on Bruno Waterfields Blog. Labour MEP's from the UK have joined with socialist MEPs across the EU to bring this into effect from 2011.

Sometimes in conversation with people they ask why I don't like the EU. As a young man I actually quite liked the idea of Europe coming together to work on issues and drive up living standards. I naively perceived the EU as a free-trade area and a zone of political co-operation.

This is of course in stark contrast from the truth. The UK may have MEPs in the EU parliament, but if that parliament does not conform to democratic principles, and is loaded with Euro-Socialists the UK's best interests are not, and can never be served. Telling the people of Europe that they can only work for a set number of hours per week at any time is a restriction on free-choice, it protects no-one that existing legislation does not; and even if it did it should fall to the national legislative to look at those circumstances and tailor the law to suit the national economy. The fact that this will likely take effect in the middle of the biggest European Recession for over 60 years is shocking and frankly criminally and spitefully ideological.

When Tony Blair came returned home with his red-lines intact from negotiations on the various versions of the constitutional treaty he assured the UK that that was that. The EU would never have control on National Security and or Borders, we already know that is not true, and given the motion in the EU parliament today it is again clear that the EU plan is to irreversibly tie all member nations in with promises and assurances and then steam-roller over those assurances. I hope the people of Ireland have a good look at what happened today, for they are once again the guardians of the freedoms of the people in the UK.

If David Cameron wants to win the next election he can do so today. All he needs to do is to pledge a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty upon his election. If the Conservatives are not in power before that date, the pledge should be for a referendum on the UK's continued involvement in the EU. I will pledge Cameron my vote today, if he will give that Referendum pledge today.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

President Klaus and the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty

I have to say that I was not surprised to read of treatment received by President Klaus of the Czech Republic in the EU Parliament. Christopher Booker today asks his readers to imagine the EU demanding the Queen fly the Ring of Stars flag next to the Royal Standard.

I first saw this story regarding the EU's chiding of President Klaus on Bruno Waterfield's blog on the DT.

So what is President Klaus's great crime? It was he, as Prime Minister that sought to take the Czech Republic into the EU in the Post Soviet era. From what I can tell, President Klaus's fault is that he will not toe the line and help roll in the EU Superstate across continental Europe.

Back in June, right after the Irish had voted NO to the Lisbon Treaty, a regular blog respondent on the DT's blog, called TBW, posted the Email address of Mirek Topolánek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and Jiri Weigl, Chancellor of the Office of President Vaclav Klaus on a comment thread where Daniel Hannan was reminding us that There is nothing nice about Europhiles. A number of people, including myself, took up TBW's request that we all email to offer our support to the leadership and people of the Czech Republic.

So, on a quite busy work day I cleared a few moments and typed out some thoughts and feelings and clicked send. Of course, I felt that would be the end of it; after all I can only imagine how many emails these offices must receive in a normal day, let alone during appeals for people to email going out on the internet.

Here is the email I sent...

Mr President,
Prime Minister,

You must be receiving increasing email traffic today and over the weekend, I am sure that many people have come to realise that the fate of democracy is in your hands this week. I will try to keep this communication short, which is difficult when addressing a matter of such great concern.

I write to you as a subject of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I assume from next year I will no longer be considered as such, but I will be a citizen of Europe . This is not a prospect I look forward to. I am not a person of influence or wealth, but my birth in the UK allowed me to be born to a free society where I received education and a healthy upbringing. I am today writing to you about my concern.
Last week the Irish electorate said No to the Lisbon Treaty, you are aware of course that they are the only electorate to be consulted on this matter. Their voice should not be ignored.

The course of the European EU project is about to reach a very critical juncture where by it must be decided whom has the control and the real power of the EU. At the moment, it is not the citizens of Europe, and you will be familiar that the participating Nation-States are having their influence eroded too.

Sirs, I put it to you that you are in a uniquely historic position. The Constitutional Treaty must not be allowed to pass in its current form. It is a tool for the destruction of the individual nation states, and a symbol of new European Imperialism.

Speaking as someone from the UK, the EU is unpopular here, and this Constitutional Treaty even more so. Yet, we have not been consulted by popular vote whether we as a nation wish to surrender yet more control to the EU state. In fact, outside of Ireland there has been no popular consultation.
Sirs, this is not a Constitution that enshrines freedom on its citizens like the US model. Let me be so bold as to remind you of how the US decided to frame such a mandate, its opening line being:

“We the people of the United States , in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for a common defense, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America .”

Having reviewed the EU Treaty, I see no wish to “secure the Blessing of Liberty” upon the Citizens of the EU, the form in which it takes is that which suits lawyers and Bureaucrats enslave a common purpose and agenda upon all citizens of the EU.

It is perhaps ironic that the governments of the Central and Eastern European States that have so recently thrown of the yolk of Communist Rule from the East may be able to secure such essential freedoms for the people of the West now. I implore that you do not lead us into the same threat, but that is what this Constitutional treaty represents. The EU is not freedom enshrined it will inevitably lead to freedoms and people enslaved.

Sirs, you need no lectures from me on freedom and democracy. However, I implore you to consider the individual liberties your citizens will fore go and reduced control of The Czech Republic will have within the EU.

This treaty has no legitimate mandate, the Irish have voted no, they should not be punished and “left behind” the EU must respect the wishes of its voters, to not do so shows contempt upon the people they claim to represent. To seek to press on will undermine and authority the EU has and in the long run will provide a platform for dissent and rebellion within Continental Europe, that could bring about a future conflict.

Europe needs it leaders to speak out about individual Liberty and Freedom, not centralise and surrender it hard fought sovereignty.

Should M. Sarkosy or Ms Merkel, or Mr Brown come to you and insist that this Treaty moves forward, please say no. Please point out that such control over the citizens of the EU should have no ambiguity on its legitimacy. If they insist that this will damage Europe , they are trying to coerce your influence through mis-truth and suggestion. Europe will be stronger when its people are freer. M. Sarkosys people also said “non” in 2005 and Mr Brown and Ms Merkel were to scared to put this question to their own electorate.

Finally, Sirs, I would also beg of you that for this or any resembling treaty in the future, you consider putting this to referenda of your own people and allowing for open, public debate.

I thank you for taking the time to read this.

Regards

--


So I was of course delightfully surprised and humbled when I received a reply from Jiri Brodsky one day later.

Dear Daniel

Thank you for your kind letter addressed to President Klaus. President Klaus read your letter personally and asked me to reply to you.

I agree with you fully that the voice of the Irish electorate should not be ignored. The European Union must not be based on ignoring its own democratic principles. The Lisbon Treaty was democratically and convincingly rejected by Ireland, so it cannot come into force. Any attempt to neglect this fact and push the Treaty through by political pressure and manipulation is disastrous for the future of the integration process. I hope that people in Ireland, Great Britain and in other countries across the EU will not allow for that. Therefore I consider your voice so important. I can assure you that President Klaus’s response is resolute and it is the following: the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty cannot be continued and the will of the Irish electorate must be respected.

President Klaus will continue to speak about individual liberty and freedom, and also about the Czech historical experience with different kinds of forced integration. Seeing some reactions of the EU member states’ leaders gathering at the European Council summit, and suggesting that the Irish vote needs to be “repaired”, I am tempted to use the same adjective before the word “integration” today.

Below, I attach the translation of President Klaus’s interview with Lidove noviny which I hope will be of interest to you.

With all best wishes

Jiri Brodsky

--

What do you think about the Irish NO?
The whole of Europe should thank the Irish people for slowing down the current erroneous processes towards more unification, towards the suppression of nation states, towards a ‘Europe of regions’, and towards greater centralization from above, which the Lisbon Treaty embodied. The referendum was a perfect example of what ordinary people think about this development – at odds with the EU-supporting politicians whose motivation lies elsewhere. I thanked a few Irish personally.


What does the Irish NO mean for the fate of the Lisbon Treaty in your view? What impact will it have on the EU as a whole?
I cannot imagine any development other than recognition of the fact that this is not the way to go. Let’s seek a European model different from a supranational state with its centre in Brussels. Let’s go back to a community of friendly, effectively cooperating states. Let’s keep most of the competencies on the level of states. We should let people living on the European continent be Czechs, Poles, Italians, Danes, and not make Europeans of them. That is a flawed project. The difference between a Czech, a Pole, an Italian and a Dane (as random examples) and a European is akin to the difference between Czech, Polish, Danish languages and Esperanto. ‘Europeanness’ is Esperanto: an artificial, dead language.

What follows from the Irish NO for the Czech Republic? Should we continue preparing for ratification under these circumstances, or is it no longer necessary? The British, for instance, have declared that they are going to continue the ratification process regardless of the results in Ireland...
Ratification cannot be continued, the Treaty can no longer enter into force. To continue as though nothing has happened would be pure hypocrisy. This would be more significant news about the ‘state of the Union’ than the Irish NO. The ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the Czech Republic ended last Friday. To pretend something else is undignified – at least if we presume to live in a world where one plus one equals two. I don’t think the British themselves declared anything; it was the Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown who made a declaration. British democracy is much more complex.

Does the Irish NO change your attitude towards the possibility of holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the Czech Republic? And if so, how?
There is now no need to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in our country as there is nothing to vote on. The only possible question would be: ‘Do you, the Czechs, want the Irish to vote again and differently?’ It is not about us today.


Should the European Union attempt to create an entirely new document in the wake of the Irish NO, instead of dusting the Treaty off or revising it?A document is only ever the last step. We need a new perception of the European integration process. It is necessary to explicitly refuse the post-Maastricht development towards an ever closer union. The resulting document must be written on a different basis and by different people.
It cannot be written by a German politician who thinks in federalist terms and has been in the European Parliament for the past 30 years. Nor can it be written by a French politician for whom ‘Europeanisation’ is a way to increase the greatness and the importance of France, or by a representative of a country which wants to find solutions to some of its historical traumas ‘via Europe’.
What is needed is detached consideration about the correct administration of ‘public goods’ – which of them belong at the level of towns, regions and states and which at the level of the continent. And above all, which of them do not belong anywhere, because the issue is not public but ‘private good’, which must remain subject to the decision-making of free individuals.

What impact will the Irish decision have on the Czech EU Presidency in 2009?We will have a few more competences than we would have had had the Lisbon Treaty been in force. The Treaty substantially weakened the states and therefore also the presidency of any one of them. But let us not live in illusions. I know well that the entire concept of a rotating presidency is, to a certain extent, just playing at real democracy.

--


So President Klaus feels that the Irish vote must be respected and that the Lisbon Treaty cannot be ratified without their consent. Because of the Irish NO vote the Lisbon Treaty is in effect NULL and VOID; it cannot be brought into force without all member states ratifying it. Ireland has said NO, the Czech Republic has not ratified, yet, but then again neither has Germany. They need Irland to vote again for a yes vote.

But why the poor treatment in the EU Parliament?

The EU's Parliament does not like President Klaus because he has spoken out against "Europeanism" and "NGOism"

They do not like President Klaus, or Mr Professor, because he has received more than 50 Honourary Degrees since 1990, published over 20 books on various social, economic and political issues as well as publishing articles in the Libertarian free-market Cato Journal.

They do not like President Klaus because he promotes free-market principles.The do not like President Klaus because he does not subscribe to their doctrine on climate change. They presumably did not like that he has offered to publically debate the matter with Al Gore. An invitation that as I understand has still not been accepted.

So I ask you one question. If the EU Parliament does not like President Klaus. If they can find only contempt for a man of honour and history; what do YOU suppose their opinion is of ordinary people like you and me?

If you would like to also email President Klaus office to offer your support, then email Jiri Brodsky at Jiri.Brodsky@hrad.cz

Breaking News - X Factor Result

A spokesperson for the European Union's Commissioner of Cultural Activities has announced her disappointment that Alexander was voted the winner of tonight's X Factor in the UK.

An emergency meeting has been called for tomorrow morning. EU leaders Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, Jose Manuel Barrosso and Jean-Claude Junker will be in attendance to discuss why ITV's viewers made the "wrong decision" and what actions can be done to rectify the situation. Simon Cowell will also attend the meeting and it is hoped that a deal can be reached that will mean that Eoghan Quigg, the lovable Irish boy might still be Christmas Number 1 in the UK.

Gordon Brown is well known in the UK as having written a number of letters to X Factor contestants. He has spoken with the head of the BBC already by phone about the possibility of bringing the popular show under national sponsorship. Proposed legislation will be drafted tonight to bring the show to the BBC and will be considered by a special Parliamentary panel to be assembled by Speaker of the Commons Michael Martin before Christmas. Prominent Labour MP's have welcomed this news, the feeling amongst party MP's is that they should be seen to be doing something positive, unlike the "Do-nothing Spiteful Tories".

A prominent UK politician, with recent ties to the EU Commission has also waded in. "We must ensure that democracy prevails, and that the correct result is achieved. We fully expect a floor vote of the EU Parliament will be called in an emergency session on Monday morning to support a new vote to take place in the UK on Wednesday." The former commissioner followed on by saying that "Clearly the rules that are in place worked fine when there were three judges on the panel, but since this has been expanded to four judges the rules can no longer be considered to be effective; certain rules must be revised in the public interest."

Update 00:33: A statement from MP Andy Burnham is expected in the morning, and the cavalier MP will be raising the matter on behalf of his constituents in Parliament this week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

National Anthems

There is a situation in Britain that has befuddled me for a while now. I speak of course to our criss-cross conventions on the singing of the national anthem. I support the notion that when the Welsh and Scottish players step out to represent their respective teams that they should feel free to sing the anthem that most closely represents their nationhood. I would like to see the possibility of the English being allowed having their own song as well.

When the UK or GB team compete, I also feel that it is appropriate that the British National Anthem – ‘God Save The Queen be played’.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is not a straightforward matter.

The official national anthem remains God Save the Queen.

In 2006 the Scottish Executive decided to allow the people of Scotland a vote to decide their own National Anthem. Subsequently, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra placed on their website the five favourites to be the new Anthem. The site attracted 65,000 unique visits and 10,000 votes from all around the world. ‘Flower of Scotland’ which had been played at Football and Rugby matches, secured the highest vote with 41%.

Although ‘Flower of Scotland’ won the vote the Holyrood committee dismissed the idea that the Scottish Parliament should debate this further. Thus, from my meagre legal background, it would seem this exercise has moved ‘Flower of Scotland’ from the status of unofficial-anthem to being the official, unofficial-anthem. ‘Scotland the Brave’ is the song that has been used by the Scottish team at the commonwealth games, this won 29% of the vote.

There is a sentiment in Scotland that ‘Flower of Scotland’ is an anti-English song. The counter argument to this, and perhaps part of the reason it is an appealing substitute to the people of Scotland is that God Save the Queen is also perceived as anti-Scottish. However, only the first verse tends to be observed of ‘God Save the Queen’ and this tends to be more widely acceptable. (Depending on where you look on the internet there are up to SIX verses of God Save the Queen, some seem to vary after the initial verse)

Wales has an official anthem in ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’ (or ‘Land of my fathers’), and must be sang in Welsh. It is recognised by convention as the official anthem of Wales; although not by law. Events concerning Wales, ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’ is played. During visits from the Royal Family, both the God Save the Queen and ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’ are played.

Having looked into the matter on the internet I see that Northern Ireland has ‘Londonderry Air’ as their anthem for the Commonwealth Games, but I does not appear to be recognised in anyway passed that.

So Can England have its own anthem? One which can be observed in English Courts and during English only sporting events? I can’t see why not, eventually, but there would be some issues that would need to be addressed.

It would appear that national anthems seem to be dictated more by convention than law. And as such, there is not much in way of precedence. Assuming that there was a national anthem for the UK and then the separate nations had their own separate anthem there should not really be too much controversy. (Should there?)

There will be a few difficulties to this; the first would be to agree on, or set out a new convention for when each should be played. It would be straight forward to suggest that in sports where teams compete as the individual nations such as England, or Scotland their separate national anthems should be observed.

But what about for example, if there were a Welsh sports person and an English Sports person competing in Sport where anthems are observed. Assuming one wished to observe their component nations anthem, and the other wished to observe ‘God Save the Queen’ – Should a convention be legislated as guidance or would the whole UK be comfortable with allowing personal choice and observation in this matter? Could this be reasonable enforced or observed in an international setting?

There is of course another problem that by observing a National Anthem for both the unitary and component nations is that it would be political issue that may promote nationalistic politics. Not just in terms of calls for a looser union or an eventual breakup UK. Additionally, the anthem, much like the Union Flag may be used as a symbol of hate, rather than to welcome and inspire. My feeling here is actually rather simplistic, (perhaps too much so).

Government, and indeed wider Governments; should do more to show our flags and anthems and national symbols as a reflection of what they truly are; the symbol of shared values, the promotion of hope, symbols of security and good will. It is truly sad that there is a political vacuum of support for something that can inspire and represents so succinctly our shared history and values.

Parliament would also be in the ironic position (perhaps) of observing ‘God Save the Queen’ as UK national Anthem, whilst almost certainly restricting such observations to the first verse… an action that MPs may be uncomfortable with, and might cause some embarrassment to Her Majesty.

Despite these reasons, I still think that the UKs respective nations can observe two anthems each, their individaul anthems and 'God Save the Queen'.

So what would my choice for an English National Anthem be I hear you cry? Answer: ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. It is the anthem observed by the England team at the Commonwealth Games and for a time by the England Rugby Team. I feel it is a fitting, non-offence, self promoting, feel good song. It makes reference to God, but can be observed English people of differing faiths.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Scary Reading

I am working on a post that needs a re-read tomorrow. I have just taken a minute (pre-football) to scan the Blogs, and if you haven't seen this it is worth a read from Frasier Nelson. Scary reading for us Brits.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Weekend Reading

Learning a little more about the British Constitution

Guido has found something odd in the banking bill. Guido asks if this the Government trying to hide the fact that it will be printing bank notes faster than Mugabe. Having read this, I am wondering if we there will be any checks left that the notes are being printed by the BoE.

Daniel Hannan says Labour has spent £43m preparing Britain to join the EURO.

and bad news for families being reported at the Times.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Conservatives in the EPP

I was thinking about posting something about the Conservative Party pledge on leaving the EPP to form a new alliance within the EU Parliament. However, as usual Daniel Hannan has summed the situation up nicely... so I will be lazy today and reccomend you read what he has said here.

I feel quite strongly that the Conservative should leave the EPP, but perhaps I will save this debate for when I have a few more regular visitors and nearer the EU elections next year.

Secret Santa

I have a problem that I need advice on....

We drew lots yesterday for Secret Santa at work, £10 spending limit. I have drawn the new girl, to whom I know very little. Any suggestions for presents?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Should we try something a little different?

It has not been easy deciding what to post here. In the last two weeks there have been some big stories in the global press, and I have untypically been out of touch with the news (small matter of getting married abroad). However, I am back and determined to have a crack at getting some regular posts up and seeing if I can get some comments going on the board.

So, I will start with something at home and closer to heart, rather than commentary on some of the more pressing news of the last fortnight. I see today that a poll has been released stating that the Conservative Party are only one point ahead in the polls of the Labour Party. I should go on record as saying that I have not yet decided who I will vote for in the next General Election, as I shall be looking at the candidates running in my ward. However, I can’t help feeling that despite the fact that I am personally undecided, I definitely do not want to see a continuation of government run by the Labour Party. It is time for a change (past due actually), but I am not enamoured with the alternatives and as such I may take my vote and place it in the box for something different.

I do think the Conservative will probably win the next election, and I suspect that if there was an Election was called tomorrow there would a lot more than 1% between Labour and Conservatives.

What of the alternatives? I will be keen to blog on the merits and controversies of the Lib/Lab/Con bunch so perhaps for the purpose of conciseness in this case, let me move past these as “alternatives” and look at something else.

I will not vote BNP. I want to see laws made based on the merit of argument, and rationale of circumstance. Other motivations for laws and decision-making (such as hate towards others) is increasingly behind more and more political & legal decisions all around the world and very much so in Europe. My vote needs to go to a Party or Individual who is capable of fulfilling this criterion.

I think it is safe to assume that the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the DUP will not be standing in my particular ward in the South of England.

So party wise I am left with UKIP, and if there is a candidate possibly the English Democrats, and maybe the old Liberal Party (anyone who want to make the case… feel free). I won’t rule out voting for UKIP – but I feel they would be twice the party if they dropped the word “Independence” from their name and could get into some debates in the media that don’t centre around the EU.

And then there are Independents. Let me start by saying that Independents are fantastic. They may not get much press, even locally, but they are often the best stories (and candidates) when looking back on elections. I may be a big softy but I find it exceptionally noble that a neighbour would want to put their life on hold and put themselves to at least some financial loss so that they can stand up and say to those other individuals wanting to stand that if you want to run here you will have to speak about my issues too. I would love to see more independents in Parliament, so that we could move away from political consensus and in a direction of more debate. Some thoughts have been mulling around in my head for some time.

It must be difficult to be anything other than a little fish, or plucky activist. If you have financial backing, surely the perception then becomes that you are in someone else’s pocket. If you have no funding you either cannot get heard, or have to spend a lot of personal money to get heard. If you are rich it might be easy to be dismissed as having nothing better to do. Single issue independents need a pretty big issue to get heard.

Part of the reason why Lib/Lab/Con are generally unpopular, is because people feel they need to vote for them, for their individual vote to matter. The tri-party system, as it is now, allows for politicians to largely ignore their constituents. Lib/Lab/Con do not need to solicit donation door-to-door anymore, they have millionaire backers. It is a lot harder to ignore someone if you need their money to get elected.

I have something approaching 2 ideas. They are in fact unlikely to get entertained, and at first sound a little kooky. But we need Independents to be less Independent. There I said it. The saying sometimes goes that if “X” did not exist, someone would need to invent it. So here goes…

What if, in idea 1, there was instead of a “Party” system, as adopted by Lib/Lab/Con – there were a much looser association of elected individuals? If, instead of standing as an “Independent” you stood as, er, well I don’t have a name yet – let’s just say for now “New Independent” and instead of standing with a Lib/Lab/Con manifesto, you stood with a manifesto that you write yourself, and you can put into it absolutely anything that you like – as long as you let your proposed constituents see it, understand it and debate it. If you (and other “New Independents”) are then duly elected to Parliament agree that for all issues debated by parliament you will vote as a bloc; and decide how that bloc will vote by way of a majority vote within this new looser association. The exception being, except where the personal Manifesto contradicts (so you would still vote for the bloc decision, but can vote independently if the bloc vote contradicts your personal manifesto). There are of course a few problems with this idea, not least, having a system for tied votes, and enforcement of bloc votes without a party whip.

Or how about Idea 2, whereby once again a personal manifesto is published. But for all other decisions the decision is taken by a majority vote, following debate at a weekly surgery in the home constituency.

You may think me something of a fool for even contemplating such matters (let alone publishing them on the Internet) – but I am a glass half full kind of person. The preservation and enhancement of democracy and greater accountability to those elected to represent – so that they may better serve is my motive – if there is a problem in the system we should be prepared to ask if we need a new system. If encouragement towards independants as something of a counter-balance to the Party System is not a step in the right direction, then what is?

We need an active Parliament debating issues and hearing radical proposals not just party political back and forth.


Nb. I should just clarify; I am not personally intending to run for Parliament. I might like to later in life after I have had a career and raised a family – point being, this post is not intended as my own personal manifesto.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My First Blog

Hello

I would like to welcome you to this blog, and thank you for visiting.

Daniel1979 is the name I have been using for some time now when posting opinions to various newspaper websites and political blogs. Somewhere along the way I have developed something of a compulsion to check out certain opinion blogs as frequently as possible both to add my own comments, but also to see what other people have been commenting about.

I recently decided it might be a nice idea to have a try at hosting my own web page; and here it is. Thank goodness for Google Blogger for having created a tool to make it very easy to set up and manage such a website.

What can you expect to see on my blog? Unlike the newspapers and TV news websites it is very unlikely that you will find breaking news here; in fact unless this Blog develops a wide following, like Guido's Blog it is unlikely that I will be in a position to post any breaking news. However, it is my humble aim to post my own questions and opinions and allow those of you who are inclined to do so you opinions and reactions. These topics will largely focus on national and international politics. However, I would also like to occasionally post on other topics such as television, sport and culture.

As I have (for now) a full time job, posts may come in spurts... as such I will endeavour to leave a blank post periodically for general comments.

Please add this blog to your favourites, and when you are done here check out some of my favourite blog pages from the links at the side of this page.