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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Independence for Scotland advances!


The Financial Times is a paper that often produces carefully considered and thought provoking analyses of news items. Here is a good example.

Most media outlets failed to notice the significance of Alex Salmond's latest political masterstroke. In one fell swoop his shift to a "Devo Max" referendum option will split the opposition to the Independence option and provide a classic Causus Belli against Westminster when that august body of deep thinkers rejects it!

Little England: Britain sleepwalks towards break-up
By Philip Stephens October 24, 2011

Alex Salmond addressed the Scottish National party’s ?annual conference the other day. Few beyond Scotland will have noticed. That is a pity. As David Cameron’s Conservatives resume their obsessive debate about leaving Europe, Mr Salmond is advancing Scotland’s departure from Britain.
North and south of the border with England, the SNP leader is a grown-up among adolescents. Alone among Britain’s party leaders, he has the confidence and guile to change the political weather. As Scotland’s first minister he is running rings around unionist opponents in Edinburgh and Westminster.

Mr Cameron is comfortable in 10 Downing Street. Labour’s Ed Miliband is settling in for what could be an uncomfortably long spell as opposition leader. Nick Clegg has lost the haunted expression he wore during the Liberal Democrats’ first year in coalition. These are not leaders, though, who rewrite the terms of political debate.
Mr Salmond is in a different class. You don’t have to like or agree with him to acknowledge he has recast the argument about the 300-year-old union binding Scotland to England. Will Scotland still be tied to its southern neighbour in, say, 15 years hence? I wouldn’t bet on it.

At the very least, the SNP is leading Scotland to self-rule in all but foreign affairs – an autonomy comparable to that enjoyed by Catalonia. Many will think this is no bad thing – for the English or the Scots. But surely the relationship is worthy of serious discussion across Britain? It would be curious were the union to sleepwalk towards break-up.

Unionists are doing their best to assist Mr Salmond. The voting system for the Edinburgh parliament was designed to prevent the SNP from ever winning a governing majority. Mr Salmond has now secured just such a position. The electoral checks and balances failed to anticipate the self-destructive capacity of the unionist parties.

The rot began to set in for Conservatives, of course, during Margaret Thatcher’s heyday. But the big failure since has been the Scottish Tories’ unwillingness to adjust to devolution. Decisions about health, education and welfare – things that matter to voters – are now taken in Edinburgh. Tories invite the charge of irrelevance by talking about nothing but the union.

Labour has been laid low by hubris. Gordon Brown saw Scotland as a personal fiefdom. It sustained Labour’s (disproportionately Scottish) politicians at Westminster. The party’s best and brightest from north of the border would not waste their time in local politics when they could play on a British stage.

Unsurprisingly, Scottish voters have woken up to the insult. Why should they back a party that treats their parliament as a parish council? Even now, leading Scottish Labour figures such as Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander prefer opposition at Westminster to a shot at the top job in Edinburgh.

The Lib Dems are paying a price for throwing in their lot with Mr Cameron. Mr Clegg wants to show that the party can shoulder responsibility at Westminster. A noble ambition. But there are better ways to win friends in Scotland.

None of this is to deny Mr Salmond’s achievement in taking nationalism from the margins to the mainstream of Scottish politics. Not too long ago much of polite society in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Aberdeen saw the SNP as a collection of leftish cranks. Now it has begun to look like the party of the establishment.

This is not to say the business and professional classes have embraced separatism. My Scottish friends always draw an important distinction. They can vote for the SNP in Scotland while backing unionist parties in British general elections. Mr Salmond cannot be sure of winning if the choice posed in his promised referendum is a straightforward one between the status quo and independence.

Now, though, we know that there will be a third option. Mr Salmond used his conference speech to throw his weight behind a three-question plebiscite – with the third option providing for what is called “devolution max”. The implication is that the return to Scotland of full control over the economy, spending, taxation and borrowing would represent a moderate third way.

It would be nothing of the sort. Devolution max would put Scotland on the threshold of independence. It would demand a rewriting of the constitutional settlement that would inevitably leave many Scots asking why not independence. The fact that such an arrangement is presented as a “sensible compromise” speaks to Mr Salmond’s political genius in reframing the debate.

For many in Mr Cameron’s party, however, it seems that severing ties with Brussels is more important than preserving them with Edinburgh. Before they know it, the sceptics may find themselves demanding England’s rather than Britain’s departure from the European Union. Perhaps they will call themselves Little Englanders.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The English Democrats condemn GB Football team plan

















Following the News, back in June, that the FAs of Scotland Wales and NI had all objected to the proposal to create a Team GB for the 2012 Olympics I issued this press release:-

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The English Democrats condemn GB Football team plan
British Olympic Association and F.A. plan tramples on English interests

English Democrats’ Chairman, Robin Tilbrook, has joined Plaid Cymru’s, Bethan Jenkins, in slamming the British Olympic Association’s (BOA) decision to announce that a GB football team will take part in the London Olympics in 2012.

Mr Tilbrook offered his full support to the Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh FAs who have all condemned the announcement and confirmed that they had not agreed the plan nor taken part in any recent discussions which has been claimed by the BOA. He also criticized the English FA’s betrayal in supporting this plan.

The English Democrats' Chairman, Robin Tilbrook, said:

“These plans pose a very serious threat to the future of football in England and the English International football team. For that reason it is extremely worrying that the BOA has made this statement and sought to further their damaging agenda.”

“It is particularly upsetting to see that the (English) Football Association (F.A.) and its puppet organization, the “official England Football Supporters Club” have betrayed the interests both of the English sporting nation and also of England’s football supporters. What more could we expect from the pretentions of an England only FA that cannot even bring itself to mention either England or English in its title?”

“We know that some influential forces within world football are more than keen to further a case to scrap the individual identities of the nations of the UK. The plans that the BOA has today laid out would be a gift for those forces and a hammer-blow for those who wish to maintain England’s independence as a footballing nation.”

ENDS

Now I see that the sellout of English Football by the FA is continuing apace as the Daily Record reported on the 20th October:-

Team GB football side becomes reality with appointment of coaches Stuart Pearce & Hope Powell
Oct 20 2011

FORMER England international Stuart Pearce and England Womens' boss Hope Powell were today named as the head coaches of the British football teams for the London 2012 Olympics.

England Under-21 manager Pearce will be in charge of the men's Olympic team, which could yet include David Beckham as an over-age player, while Powell will make history when she leads out the first Team GB squad to take part in the Olympic women's football competition.

Powell, 44, has been England Women's head coach since 1998, leading her side to four successive major finals including the Euro 2009 final.

Team GB was today made a reality despite strong objections - most notably from the SFA whose Chief Executive Stewart Regan today repeated his opposition to the plan.

However, an "extremely proud" Pearce, 49, who also coaches within Fabio Capello's England senior set-up, said: "I'm very much looking forward to getting started.

"I was fortunate to be part of Euro 96, so I know how special it can be to play for your country on home soil at a major tournament.

"I'm sure this group of players will relish being part of not only a huge tournament in this country, but a unique one competing together and representing the UK."

The Olympics will be an ideal chance to build on the Euro 2005 experience, which was also hosted in England, according to Powell.

She said: "The attendances at the games during Euro 2005 were a sign of progress for women's football in this country, and it helped provide a platform for what has happened since then.

"From those finals where the players were playing against the best teams in Europe and in front of huge crowds, there was a real surge of enthusiasm.

"I think with the exposure and interest in the Olympics in this country we could see a similar impact from the tournament next summer.

"I'm delighted to be in the position to be able to take a team into such an illustrious tournament. I just wish it were starting tomorrow."

The Football Association appointments, announced at Wembley Stadium where the Olympic finals will be held, are the first key step towards the tournament for the British sides which have been dogged by rows over the make-up and home region nationality of the team.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) struck a deal with The FA in June for Team GB to return to the pitch in a men's Olympic football competition for the first time since the Rome 1960 Games and a debut Olympic appearance for the women's squad.

This sparked an immediate outcry from by the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish Football Associations who fear the possible impact on their independent status at Fifa if they join forces with the English.

Team selection will be non-discriminatory in terms of nationality, the BOA insist.

Players from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and other territories who fall under the BOA's remit as a National Olympic Committee can be considered for selection if they hit the approved competitive standard in line with the Olympic Charter, the BOA stressed.

Team GB managers will start to build a long list of potential players. They have to confirm their interest and availability to compete, if selected, following discussions with their respective professional clubs and Home Associations.

Beckham, the former England captain, has always stressed that he would like to fill one of the three potential spots available for players aged over 23 in an Olympic team.

As competition draws closer, this list will be cut. An announcement of the two squads will be made in the summer of 2012.

FA Chairman David Bernstein said: "I am delighted for both Hope and Stuart that they will lead us into next summer's Olympic football tournament. With their excellent track record and experience I am convinced we have chosen the best coaches for these positions.

"These are important appointments given the unique nature of Team GB competing at London 2012. It will be a massive opportunity to take football into the Olympic arena, and for a group of players to take part in a truly special tournament on home soil."

Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt said: "We welcome the FA's appointment of Hope Powell and Stuart Pearce - two managers who share experience of competing in major competition on home soil, as well as a great passion to proudly represent Team GB in the Olympic Games.

"When Hope leads the Team GB women's football team out for their first match at the London 2012 Olympic Games, she will be making history. Team GB has never before been represented in the Olympic women's football competition and we are delighted that she will have the opportunity to do so on home soil in front of our passionate fans."

I notice that there is now a website campaigning against Team GB

Click here to view it >>> http://www.noteamgb.com/

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Frank Field speaking good sense again


Frank Field speaking good sense both on the EU and also on the English Question.
Have a listen to this - is he an English national treasure?

Click here >>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FjBkLZN151w

The English are ......?


One answer to this perennial question is that of the mid Victorian Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, who said:-
"The people of England are the most enthusiastic in the world".

Another longer but, I think, interesting answer is provided in an edgier Travelbook than the AA one which I quoted yesterday.

“THE ROUGH GUIDE TO ENGLAND” says in its "Introduction to England":-

Like an ageing cabaret star shuffling onto the stage, England really needs no introduction. When even the world’s most remote communities are on first-name terms with its footballers, princes and prime ministers, it’s clear that everyone knows something about this crowded nation, perched on Europe’s western fringe. As a visitor, you can pick your favourite slice of “Englishness” and indulge yourself in a country with a notorious taste for nostalgia. The tales of King Arthur; the works of Shakespeare; the exploits of Drake; the intellect of Johnson; the invention of Brunel; the leadership of Churchill; the cult of Diana – all are endlessly recycled in England, providing a cultural backdrop to an unparalleled range of historic buildings, monuments and landscapes.


Of course, this isn’t anything like the whole story of England. For every tourist who wants to stand outside the gates of Buckingham Palace or visit Stratford-upon-Avon, there’s another who makes a beeline for the latest show at Tate Modern or the cityscape of downtown Manchester. Contemporary England is a deeply conservative place which at the same time has a richly multi-ethnic culture. Famously, fish and chips gave way some years ago to chicken tikka masala as the country’s favourite dish, and while the nation tends to distrust all things European, the English increasingly embrace the continental lifestyle. Enjoy a fried English breakfast or a Devonshire cream tea by all means, but notice the locals at the next-door café-bar tucking into a croissant and a cappuccino.

Ask an English person to define their country in terms of what’s worth seeing and you’re most likely to have your attention drawn to England’s golden rural past. The classic images are found in every brochure – the village green, the duck pond, the country lane and the farmyard. And it’s true that it’s impossible to overstate the bucolic attractions of various English regions, from Cornwall to the Lake District, or the delights they provide – from walkers’ trails and prehistoric stone circles to traditional pubs and obscure festivals. But despite celebrating their rural heritage, the modern-day English have an ambivalent attitude towards “the countryside”. Farming today forms only a tiny proportion of the national income and there’s a real dislocation between the population of the burgeoning towns and suburbs and the small rural communities badly hit by successive crises in English agriculture.

So perhaps the heart of England is found in its towns and cities instead? The shift towards urban living and working has been steady since the Industrial Revolution, and industry – and the Empire it inspired – has provided a framework for much of what you’ll see as you travel around. Virtually every English town bears a mark of former wealth and power, whether it be a magnificent Gothic cathedral financed from a monarch’s treasury, a parish church funded by the tycoons of the medieval wool trade, or a triumphalist civic building raised on the back of the slave and sugar trade. In the south of England you’ll find old dockyards from which the navy patrolled the oceans, while in the north there are the mills that employed entire town populations. England’s museums and galleries – several of them ranking among the world’s finest – are full of treasures trawled from its imperial conquests. And in their grandiose stuccoed terraces and wide esplanades, the old seaside resorts bear testimony to the heyday of English holiday towns, at one time as fashionable as any European spa.

In short, England isn’t just one place, but a perpetual collision of culture, class and race – the product of multiple identities adapting and somehow fitting together. It’s political philosophies and instructions have influenced the most diverse western societies; its idiosyncrasies and prejudices have left their mark across the English-speaking world, and its inventions and creative momentum, from the Industrial Revolution to the Turner Prize, continue to inspire. But the only certainty for visits is that however long you spend in England and however much you see, it still won’t be enough to understand the place.

WHERE TO GO
To begin to get to grips with England, London is the place to start. Nowhere else in the country can match the scope and innovation of the metropolis, a colossal, frenetic city, perhaps not as immediately attractive as its European counterparts, but with so much variety that lack of cash is the only obstacle to a great time. It’s here that you’ll find England’s best spread of nightlife, cultural events, museums, galleries, pubs and restaurants. However each of the other large cities – Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool – makes its own claim for historic and cultural diversity and you certainly won’t have a representative view of England’s cities if you venture no further than the capital. It’s in these regional centres that, currently, the most exciting architectural and social developments are taking place, though for many visitors they rank a long way behind ancient cities like Lincoln, York, Salisbury, Durham and Winchester – to name just those with the most celebrated of England’s cathedrals. Most beguiling of all, though, are the long-established villages of England, hundreds of which amount to nothing more than a pub, a shop, a gaggle of cottages and a farmhouse offering bed and breakfast. Devon, Cornwall, the Cotswold and the Yorkshire Dales harbour some especially picturesque specimens, but every county can boast a decent showing of photogenic hamlets. Evidence of England’s pedigree is scattered between its settlements as well. Wherever you’re based, you’re never more than a few miles from a ruined castle, a majestic country house, or a monastery, and in many parts of the country you’ll come across the sites of civilizations that thrived here before England existed as a nation. In the southwest there are remnants of a Celtic culture that elsewhere was all but eradicated by the Romans, and from the south coats to the northern border you can find traces of prehistoric settlers, the most famous being the megalithic circles of Stonehenge and Avebury.

Then of course there’s the English countryside, an extraordinarily diverse terrain from which Constable, Turner, Wordsworth, Emily Bronte and a host of other native luminaries took inspiration. Most dramatic and best known are the moors and uplands – Exmoor, Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor, the North York Moors and the Lake District – each of which has its over-visited spots, though a brisk walk will usually take you out of the throng. Quieter areas are tucked away in every corner of England, from the lush vales of Shropshire near the border with Wales to the flat wetlands of the eastern Fens and the chalk downland of Sussex. It’s a similar story on the coast, where the finest sands and most rugged cliffs have long been discovered, and sizeable resorts have grown to exploit many of the choicest locations. But again, if it’s peace you’re after, you can find it by heading for the exposed strands of Northumberland, the pebbly flat horizons of East Anglia or the crumbling headlands of Dorset.

Fact File
As part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (“the UK”), England is a parliamentary democracy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. Its traditional industries – fishing, farming, mining engineering, shipbuilding – are all in decline and business today is dominated by banking and finance, the media and technology, steel production, oil and gas and tourism.

Bordered by Scotland to the north and Wales to the west, England is the largest country in Great Britain, occupying an area of 50,085 sq miles (129,720 sq km). The terrain is diverse, from plains to peaks, cliffs to beaches, though the superlatives are all modest on a world scale – the largest lake, Windermere, is 10 miles (16km) long, the highest mountain, Scafell, just 3205ft (978m) above sea level.

The population of approximately 50 million is dense for a country of its size, but settlement is concentrated in the southeast conurbations around London, and in the large industrial cities of the Midlands and the North.

This is one of the world’s most multi-ethnic countries made up largely of Anglo-Saxon, Scots, Welsh and Irish descent, but with sizeable communities from the Caribbean, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, China, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.


Understanding English
As a glance at the tabloid newspapers will confirm, England is a nation of overweight, alcopop-swilling, sex – and celebrity – obsessed TV addicts. But it’s also a country of animal loving, tea-drinking, charity donors thriving on irony and Radio 4. It’s a country where accent and vocabulary can stamp a person’s identity like a brand, where a tiny land-owning aristocracy, who in the some cases trace their roots to the Norman Conquest of the eleventh century, still own most of the land. But it’s also a genuine haven for refugees, and a country of immigrants from more than 100 ethnic backgrounds. It’s a nation where commuters suffer overpriced, under-funded public transport services, and where the hearts of many towns – and increasingly their outskirts – consist of identikit retail zones. Yet it’s also a country where individuality and creativity flourish, fuelling a thriving pop culture and producing one of the most dynamic fashion, music and arts scenes to be found anywhere.

Ask any English person to comment on all of this and – assuming you’re not trying to communicate with a stranger in a public place, which in London at least can be seen as tantamount to physical assault – you’ll get an entertaining range of views. Try to make sense of these, and the resulting picture might suggest something akin to a national identity crisis – the people themselves can’t agree on who or what they are.

Seeing ourselves as others see us

I think that it is often useful to see what others think of us as it helps us to be objective about our own strengths and weaknesses.



A couple of days ago I was browsing, in my local Library, and picked up the AA's guide book for England. I was partly inspired to do so because of the relief to find one about England as most of the other guidebooks which included England were about Great Britain or the UK and so I wanted to see what the AA had to say specifically about England and here it is:-


AA GUIDES: “ESSENTIAL ENGLAND


THE ESSENCE OF ENGLAND

England really is a green and pleasant land, a place of rolling landscapes and scenery that can make your heart ache. But it’s also a varied and very cosmopolitan country, and offers so much that it is almost folly to try to cram everything into one visit (you simply won’t). The secret is not to be too hasty. Linger, perhaps longer than you intended, whenever a particular place captures your imagination. Be flexible, change your plans as you go along, and be prepared to spend time exploring street markets, go for a walk in a town park, or simply enjoy a pint of beer at the local pub.

Features


For many visitors it is hard to comprehend the variety England has to offer, from its charming country villages to the magnificent monuments of its great cities; it’s a place of extremes but also seems very homogeneous and united.

Today England is a world leader in art, music and fashion. Politically and economically it is still a major player, as a part of the United Kingdom. There is a great feeling of openness, of a willingness to share England’s heritage, whatever form it takes, with visitors and local people alike.

But England is also very European, in spite of the political bickering that goes on. Gone is the arrogance of imperialism; instead there is a recognition that England is one among many on the world’s stage, with a role for everyone. It is a more worldly, more enterprising place that above all has a developing pride in its history and its place in the world.

THE COUNTRY

· England is the largest political division of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

· It is a highly industrialized and agriculturally developed country, which is densely populated and rich in history.

· London, the capital, is also by far England’s largest city, with over 7 million inhabitants.

· Birmingham in central England the next largest city, has around a million inhabitants.

· Northern England boasts a clutch of cities with around 500,000 inhabitants, including Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Bradford, Sheffield and Newcastle. In the southwest, Bristol and Plymouth are the largest centres of population.


THE ECONOMY

· England’s most important exports are oil, gas, technology and financial services.

· London’s hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games should provide a welcome boost to the economy.

A FEW FACTS AND FIGURES

Area: 50,331 sq mils (130,357sq km).

Currency: pound (£) sterling

Population: approx 50 million in 2008

Language: English, with many varied dialects. Several hundred minority languages also spoken.

OPEN SPACES

· In England, ten National Parks, including the newest in the New Forest, offer almost 5,000sq miles (13,000sq km) of countryside, protected for their scenic and recreational value.

· There are also more than 40 designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANB), with a similar protected status.

· Spread across the English countryside is a massive network of thousands of miles of footpaths, bridleways (open to horses and cyclists) and byways.

· Most towns and cities have formal parks in or near their centres, while in the surrounding areas you’ll find country parks, where there is a less formal environment, and a greater chance of seeing some wildlife.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Planning laws re-written to benefit Tory Party donors?

In the last few days the lid has been partially removed on the murky world of the British version of crony capitalism. It became clear that rich individuals and corporations were trying to buy influence within the Ministry of Defence through Liam Fox. This is a scenario which, I suspect, is all too common within the British Establishment system and probably runs through all Whitehall departments. We are now getting an insight into how donations of allegedly over £3.5 Million seem to have 'influenced' the re-writing of England's Planning Laws (which, unlike those of Scotland, Wales and NI, are still within the control of the Carpetbaggers of the British Government!).

It is an old wisdom that you should "Never believe in anything until it has been officially denied" as Otto von Bismarck declared. With that comment in mind read this item from today's Daily Telegraph:-

Hands Off Our Land: the 'huge' lobbying war chest behind the builders

Property developers have mounted a “huge” lobbying campaign backed by the rich and powerful to alter radically planning laws in favour of development, the head of the National Trust has said. By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor 17 Oct 2011

Sir Simon Jenkins, the organisation’s chairman, said the “fingerprints” of rich builders were all over the reforms, which campaigners say will give developers carte blanche to build on large parts of rural England. “We are up against some very rich and powerful people,” he told MPs on a Commons committee investigating the planning reforms. His comments come amid growing concerns about the influence of lobbyists and business figures on ministers and government policy. Plans to force lobbyists to sign up to a register in an attempt to increase transparency were delayed by a year yesterday, despite previous pledges from the Government. David Cameron described lobbying in a speech last year as “the next big scandal waiting to happen” following the furore over MPs’ expenses.

The Daily Telegraph disclosed last month that an elite forum of property developers charged “key players in the industry” £2,500 a year to set up breakfasts, dinners and drinks with senior Conservatives. The club raises about £150,000 a year for the party. Official records show that ministers in charge of the new planning regulations have met 28 times with figures from the property industry since coming to power and have only seen environmental groups 11 times. The National Trust and other groups are campaigning to persuade the Government to rethink the changes to planning rules because of fears that they favour development. The Daily Telegraph is also running a Hands Off Our Land campaign urging ministers to rethink the reforms. The draft National Planning Policy Framework includes a new “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

Sir Simon was pressed by the committee about revelations in this newspaper that developers who stood to benefit from the changes had donated millions of pounds to the Conservatives and whether this had any bearing on the planning reforms. He replied: “This process has seen the most intensive lobbying I’ve seen in a long time in this game. The sums of money involved are huge. “One only has to go through this document with a mildly sceptical eye and you will see one fingerprint after another. We are up against some very rich and powerful people.” He suggested that it was not a coincidence that a requirement forcing councils to allow new homes only to be built on previously developed brownfield sites was dropped from the draft planning documents.

This decision was “incomprehensible” because there was so much brownfield land from England’s industrial past which could be used for building. He said: “De-industrialisation has yielded so much unused land — fly over it, take a train. You have got sewerage, utilities in towns. This discussion is a distraction because the fact is there are quite a few companies who want to build on the countryside and make money.” Sir Simon suggested that the requirement to build on previously developed land was dropped because “there are smaller interests involved in brownfield development”. He added that the draft planning reforms used language that was “so vague that it is easily actionable” in courts, further tying the planning system in knots.

However, John Slaughter, director of external affairs at the Home Builders Federation who was giving evidence alongside Sir Simon, said: “The merit of having less rather than more on paper is you avoid an overly tick-box, prescriptive approach to the planning system.” He said this had contributed to the current, unwieldy situation. A 10-week consultation into the draft planning reforms closed last night, and MPs are due to be given their first opportunity to debate the proposed regulations on Thursday. Yesterday petitions urging a rethink had been signed by more than 400,000 people, including one by 210,000 National Trust supporters, and were handed to the Government.

The Daily Telegraph also disclosed last month that Greg Clark, the planning minister, had privately urged property developers to lobby the Prime Minister amid concerns that the changes could be blocked.

Last night a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The suggestion that the draft framework was biased towards developers is factually wrong. “Councils’ plans should allocate land with the least environmental or amenity value, thereby encouraging the use of disused land for regeneration. This means brownfield sites will be prioritised, but also recognises that some restored brownfield sites also have ecological value.

Here is a short video clip which says it all! Click here >>>> http://www.youtube.com/user/Alfietheok#p/u/9/N8INkJaV78s

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A surge in support for breaking up the UK - IoS reports

Today there is a significant report in the Independent on Sunday (IoS). It explains why the British Establishment is now panicing so much that they are letting us (and Scottish voters) know some of the benefits which Scots have been getting from England.
Scottish public opinion is moving towards independence with the charge being led by Alex Salmond - a dedicated Scottish nationalist with only Scottish interests at heart and no love of the English.
English public opinion too is moving towards self determination but our allotted champion and potential negotiator is David Robert Donald Cameron. He is on record saying:- "I'm a Cameron, there is quite a lot of Scottish blood flowing through these veins". Cameron has also promised to fight any English person that wants fairness for England. His attack on "sour little Englanders” would not fill any Englishman with confidence about his willingness to fight for our interests.

We certainly do not want Cameron and his cronies to once again have an opportunity to betray English interests by giving the Scots an overly generous separation deal.
We urgently need to make a few political adjustments at home before there are any Scottish independence negotiations. We need an English government to look after the interests of England just as Scotland has their own government - a government that can be relied upon to squeeze every penny from the deal!
Here is the report:-

Westminster has no answer to the Alex Salmond effect
As the SNP prepares for its first conference as the sole governing party in Holyrood, support for independence has grown astonishingly. Matt Chorley and Brian Brady report
Sunday, 16 October 2011

Alex Salmond's dream of inching Scotland quietly towards independence is working – and Westminster does not know what to do about it. A significant new poll reveals that since the Scottish National Party won outright control at Holyrood in May, there has been a surge in support for breaking up the union.

With Labour, Tories and Liberal Democrats increasingly panicked by the seemingly inevitable march towards separation, the Scottish National Party will this week unveil plans to augment an "independence generation" in time for a referendum on a split, expected within three years.

According to a ComRes survey for The Independent on Sunday, 39 per cent of people across Britain now say Scotland should be an independent country, up from 33 per cent just five months ago. The rise in support for a split among those polled in Scotland is even more striking, up 11 points from 38 per cent to 49 per cent. Voters in every region of the UK now back Scottish independence.



This change of mood on the state of the union comes as the SNP prepares for its first party conference as Scotland's majority government. Until May, Mr Salmond had led a minority administration, and so could blame other parties for curtailing his ambitions for Scotland.

The IoS poll findings confound strenuous efforts made by the three main parties to repel the SNP surge under Mr Salmond following the shock of his crushing victory at the Scottish parliamentary elections in May. Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had banked on the expectation that even those voters who swept Mr Salmond to an outright majority in Edinburgh did not want full independence.

The two parties in coalition in Westminster have differing views on what to do about the "Salmond problem": the Lib Dems' blueprint for a federal Britain at the last general election pledged to "increase the powers of the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament", but the Tories baldly pledged to "strengthen the union". One Lib Dem cabinet minister bridles at the word "unionist" and insists that "you won't find anyone on our side using that word".

However, in the absence – thus far – of a coherent political or emotional plan to "sell" the union to the Scottish people, the Westminster government has devised a scheme to lay bare the price of going it alone. The new, aggressive approach to the SNP, detailed in The IoS last month, centres on a campaign to drive home the costs of independence to wavering Scottish voters. Ministers have targeted areas where Mr Salmond is seen to be vulnerable, notably on the economy and welfare, for a more rigorous examination of how an independent Scotland would stay afloat – and bankroll its huge pensions and benefits bill without raising taxes.

Ministers in London have seized the opportunity in recent weeks to warn of a looming economic catastrophe. David Mundell, the Scotland Office minister, claimed Scotland would not have survived the banking collapse had it been independent, while Nick Clegg last week said the uncertainty over the referendum was "very unsettling for the business community and [would not do] the Scottish economy any good".

But the most drastic intervention came from Danny Alexander, whose calculations led him to warn of a "catastrophic" £122bn cost of independence. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury told business leaders that Scotland's share of the national debt last year would have been £65bn, while the cost of recapitalising the two major banking groups, RBS and HBOS, would have added a further £57bn to the burden.

That gloomy assessment is inevitably rejected by the SNP, but it has also been questioned by a number of economists. Professor Andrew Hughes-Hallett, of St Andrews University, calculates that, on the basis of income over the last five years, Scotland is a net contributor to the Treasury – and that an independent Scotland would be financially better off.

"If you were to take account of what is spent in Scotland and what is raised in Scotland – and that would include North Sea oil – then in 2008 Scotland was in a mild surplus," he said. "So you could say the subsidy is the other way around. I think critics in England have only one side of the story."

In an attempt to force Mr Salmond on to the back foot, David Cameron and Nick Clegg want MPs in Westminster to agree to block Scottish MPs from voting on English issues before the SNP referendum. The coalition agreement pledges to establish a commission to consider whether to bar MPs from devolved nations from all but UK-wide votes, first raised by Tam Dalyell in the 1970s when he was Labour MP for West Lothian.

A senior Lib Dem source said: "The Government is confident we can get the commission out before Salmond has a referendum, but it is hard to say because Salmond has not been brave enough to come forward about when he will hold it or what the question will be, and he continues to avoid telling the Scottish people what he has planned for their future."

The problem is the three main parties in Holyrood are not in good shape. After each suffered electoral wipeout in May's Scottish elections, their leaders all resigned. Labour and the Tories are still to choose successors, but the extreme suggestion of one Conservative candidate, Murdo Fraser, that his party in Scotland should change its name and cut links to Westminster illustrated the establishment's sense of helplessness in the face of the unstoppable force of Mr Salmond.

The SNP leader continues to call the shots, shaping the debate by offering a third option, a halfway house between the status quo and severing all ties; the so-called "independence lite" option would give Scotland full financial autonomy, while remaining part of the UK.

He is already paving the way for a favourable result in the referendum, confirming plans to open the vote to 16-year-olds. His plans assume younger voters are more inclined to back independence, having grown up with devolution since 1999. His chances of success are underlined by the IoS poll, which shows that backing for independence among 25- to 34-year-olds from across the UK has surged from 31 per cent in May to 42 per cent now. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, there has been an increase from 28 to 32 per cent.

At its conference in Inverness this week, the SNP will detail a steep increase in its membership, which has doubled to almost 19,000 in less than a decade – making the nationalists the biggest party in Scotland. Derek MacKay, the SNP's business convener, said the party wanted to increase membership to 38,000, to shatter "the myth that membership of political parties is falling". He added: "It may be true for other parties but it doesn't apply to the SNP."

Rising membership and a surge in the polls is the holy grail of all politicians. And yet the SNP's resurgence has passed almost unnoticed by most outside Scotland. In Westminster, ministers privately admit to fears that the UK could be "sleepwalking" towards a break-up. Unless they can wake the nation up to the issue, their nightmare could yet come true.

Scotland vs England: subsidies and benefits

Old people
Scotland: Free personal care for all residents of nursing homes.
England: Proposal that anyone with assets worth £35,000 should pay all the costs of their care.

University tuition fees
Scotland: Free – to Scottish students. Holyrood abolished £1,000-per-year tuition fees.
England: Students pay tuition and top-up fees of up to £9,000 a year – and English students at Scottish universities are charged £1,800 for tuition. (this is wrong for next year when English Students will be required to pay up to £9,000 a year to go to Scottish Universities when French students would be free!)

Education maintenance allowances
Scotland: Up to £30 a week
England: £0

Prescription charges
Scotland: Prescription drugs free for the chronically ill from next April. Expected to be free for everyone within four years. (This is also wrong as Scots already have free prescription charges for all and the English Charge is £7.20)
England: £6.85 per item

Health checks
Scotland: Free dental checks and free eye tests for all.
England: Standard charge of £17 for dental check-ups; eye tests cost £18.85.

Transport
Scotland Over-60s travel free on buses; 16- to 18-year-olds get a third off.
England: Off-peak journeys free for over-60s and schoolchildren.

Heating for elderly
Scotland: Central heating installed for all pensioners;
England: Grants available for those on pension credits.

School dinners
Scotland: Free in the first three years of primary school.
England: Poorer children qualify for free meals – but this applies to only 16 per cent of pupils.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Discussing England or Englishness is "un-British"!

Yesterday Sir Simon Jenkins published another excellent comment on the future of the UK. I quote it in full below.

The one issue which he (among many!) is still confused about is that it is not the English or England whom he is meaning to criticise but rather the British and in particular the British Political Establishment who are persisting in their old imperialist ways but now are only left with poor old England to 'lord it over'!

I would assure Sir Simon that the rump of the British state that continues to rule England with "the foolishness with which London governed its domestic empire" is now beginning to enrage even the most plegmatic Englishman! Part of that rage is in reaction to the attitude which he accurately describes thus:- "As for discussing England or Englishness, it is considered "un-British". England is close to being a banned word at Westminster, its adherents crypto-fascists, football hooligans or, at very least, co-religionists with Celtic nationalism."

Here is the full article:
Only England fails to foresee the demise of its first empire
Simon Jenkins
Guardian Tuesday 11 October 2011 20.30 BST

David Cameron and Alex Salmond: who is the real feartie? Photograph: Allan Milligan
Federations collapse from the stupidity of their leaders rather than the bolshevism of their members. The United Kingdom is no exception. It was pieced together in the 18th century from the half of the British Isles that the Normans had failed to conquer and assimilate. It began to disintegrate when the Irish had had enough of inept English government. Now the Scots are reaching the same conclusion, and up to a point the Welsh.

The SNP's Alex Salmond indicated in the Guardian this week that he wants a dramatic new autonomy for Scotland: far more than the coalition's modest fiscal reform now before parliament, which offers some discretion on income tax and the retention of stamp duty. Salmond wants a Scottish referendum on either independence or a more plausible option B for economic "devo max" or "independence lite". This would embrace full delegation to the Scottish parliament of taxation, welfare and domestic government. London would be left with the monarchy, foreign affairs and defence, much like the Basque country. For all practical purposes, the Westminster parliament would become the English parliament.

There is a clear head of steam behind Salmond's demands, which are spreading across the so-called Celtic fringe. The government of Northern Ireland, under the eerie power-sharing of Protestants and Catholics, is moving further from the mainland and closer to Ireland proper. That its deputy leader, Martin McGuinness, should plausibly run for president of what claims to be all Ireland is a symptom. There is talk of merging trade promotion and corporation tax on an all-Ireland basis. Wales, a country that has never ruled itself in modern times and was a reluctant devolutionist, is seeking similar fiscal autonomy to Scotland – a commission on which was conceded by the Welsh secretary, Cheryl Gillan.

The speed of this long retreat from England's "first empire" may be slow, but the line of route is unmistakable. London's response is manic. The union has become as drenched in political correctness as once was the empire. Like Margaret Thatcher and John Major before him, David Cameron declares his readiness to defend the union "with every single fibre that I have". As for discussing England or Englishness, it is considered "un-British". England is close to being a banned word at Westminster, its adherents crypto-fascists, football hooligans or, at very least, co-religionists with Celtic nationalism.

The union has long been asymmetric. It was a product of military conquest, unequal treaties and marriages of convenience. Had it not been for Edward I, Cromwell, the Victorian Church of England and Margaret Thatcher, a degree of harmonious assimilation might have been won. Yet the foolishness with which London governed its domestic empire lost and then partitioned Ireland, enraged Scotland, and roused even the somnolent Welsh from apathy. When administrative delegation became the fad at the end of the 20th century, devolution gained a traction from which it has not looked back.

The proportion of Scots supporting independence has grown to almost 40%, and the SNP's electoral support in May was just short of 50%, crushing the Tories and Lib Dems into virtual oblivion. Salmond's mandate north of the border is near absolute, while Cameron's is negligible. Scottish government has taken hold. Modern Edinburgh feels more like Dublin than it does a "British" city. Yet at every turn London schemes to balk autonomy. The new fiscal devolution is no devolution at all. Danny Alexander, a Scots control freak and Lib Dem minister, is fighting to deny Scotland the tax-raising power of an English parish council. Cameron last week chided Salmond for being a "feartie", for not putting an immediate referendum on full independence, suspecting it would fail. Yet Cameron opposes a devo- max option as that might succeed.

It is hard to see what disadvantage there is to London in devo max. It could save the London exchequer as much as £10bn a year in subsidies. With oil revenues declining there would be little compensation to the Scots there. Scottish representation in an English parliament would disappear, greatly assisting the Tories, to be replaced by some new "confederal" upper house. In return for real autonomy, London could negotiate a seriously tough deal with the Scots. So why not?

Most small new countries go through a difficult period of readjustment, but the iron law of separatism is that national pride and the exhilaration of independence trump money. Nor is that all. The evidence is that small-is-beautiful brings in confidence and investment, hence the revived economies of Slovakia, Slovenia, the Baltic states and, for a while, Ireland. Independence, in whatever degree, is a rejuvenating, galvanising force. Economists who declare that Scotland would be impoverished by autonomy see only a static, not a dynamic, model. It is the same size as Denmark and New Zealand. Why should it not be as prosperous?

The truth of this whole affair is that a mature democracy should be able to handle devolution without the present hysterics, bombast or power fixation. There are a hundred ways of forming and reforming unions, from Swiss cantons to Catalonia, from Britain's crown dependencies to the provinces of India. Each requires different constitutional arrangements, just as the UK now needs one urgently to respond to the changes in accountability brought on by devolution. It is absurd that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should still be represented at Westminster as if they were counties of England.

The only constant in the debate is the aversion of the governing elite in London to ceding control to the Celtic periphery. England's leaders remember nothing and learn nothing. Just as their opposition to Irish political emancipation in the 19th century made Irish separatism inevitable, so the Tory treatment of Scotland in the 1980s – "piloting" the poll tax there – gave an elixir to nationalism. The same Tory federalists who champion a UK parliament with every drop of their blood are anti-federalists in the setting of a wider Europe. Those who oppose the break-up of their union go to war for the separatist Kosovans, Bosnians and Kurds.

All unions, like all empires, have their day. Britain's global empire has gone, to be replaced by a commonwealth. The disintegration of England's island union began when Ireland departed a century ago and is now progressing in the same direction. Salmond's devo max is not a rerun of Bannockburn. It is a reasonable step down the road being taken by free peoples across Europe. In responding to it, England should grow up.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

CORRUPTION IN THE BNP

Last night’s Panorama programme (with an estimated viewing of up to 3.5 million) was an apparently dispassionate but utterly damning indictment of the culture of dishonesty and downright thuggery at the heart of Nick Griffin’s BNP. 


Here is the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0161hqc
and here for the BBC website report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15243064

I have no personal knowledge of the truth of these allegations but I have heard much that fully corroborates the details of Panorama’s allegations.

As often happens in fraud investigations, the programme did not focus on showing the big picture but it did offer detailed proof of several very damaging and undoubtedly, if proven in court, criminal allegations.  It is also true that many of the even more serious allegations being discussed on the internet would never be published on a BBC programme for fear of giving Griffin a windfall win of damages for defamation because of lack of detailed proof of their truthfulness.

In any event, by avoiding the usual ranting approach of programmes featuring the BNP, I suspect that Panorama will have caused far more long term damage to the BNP than might be apparent now.  This is because it is not true that all publicity is good publicity. While such a sweeping statement might be true if you are a porn star, for a politician any publicity that suggests that he is dishonest, unprincipled, self-seeking or a joke are all usually fatal to that politician’s credibility.  Some of these allegations were very much along those lines and so the damage to Nick Griffin’s credibility will be serious. 

It seems that the root of the trouble was the simple desire to make money.  In a business man this is normal but for a credible political figure or party this can only properly be for their cause. As Erasmus said early in the 16th century:- (Piscis primum a capite foetet) A fish rots first from the head!

In stark contrast, in the English Democrats we have used every penny that we have raised for our Cause and none at all on the lifestyle, or even on out of pocket expenses, of our leadership.  Indeed I personally, as have quite a few others, have put a substantial amount of money into the Party to help campaign for the future of England, our Nation and for an English Parliament.

I fully intend that we shall continue to do so and that the English Democrats will continue to campaign to make the difference for the people of England without any taint of greed or self interest.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Tory EU deceit

A regular correspondent sent me this and I thought it was worth sharing:-


“My M.P. is OLIVER HEALD, representing the North & East Hertfordshire constituency.

In 2004 (when the Conservative Party was in opposition) his views and promises were exemplified by a speech in Parliament, in which he said

“…..Is it not time that the Government started to listen to, and act on, advice? They are ignoring the voters on the European Constitution; they ignored the Electoral Commission's advice on all-postal ballots; they ignored their own embassies' advice on immigration visas. Does the Leader of the House understand why people feel let down by Labour? Can we have a statement—a statement of apology?”.

His views on the EU appeared to coincide with my own, so I voted for him in 2005.   He was elected. 

Immediately after this, his views changed dramatically.   I told him I was a supporter of the newly-formed ‘Better off out” campaign.   His reply was so dismissive and pro-EU that I was astonished.  

At the same time other members of the Tory Party (still in opposition) were giving out strangely different messages - Former London Mayoral candidate Steve Norris, was asked about the EU, and his reply is worth quoting at some length: I strongly support close a constructive dialogue with our European neighbours and I believe there are some issues………where co-operation among European nations is invaluable. But the evidence over many years is that the EU is a corrupted and corrupting organisation that denies democracy and works against the interests of member states in preference to the interests of its bureaucrats. I want to see the powers of the Commission reduced, not enhanced. I strongly support the proposition that it would be intolerable for the UK government to come to any decision on an EU Constitution without a referendum.  He added: "If it were Conservative policy to leave the EU, I should have no problem with that".

I have long ceased to trust the Tory leaders, who have consistently lied about the EU since Edward Heath in 1975, and have continued to do so through Michael Howard (“we will change the EU.”) to the bleating William Hague - “in Europe but not run by Europe” – what a fool!  

Mr. Heald said, in a letter to me in 2009, that my views on the EU were “ absolute nonsense”.

So in 2010 I did not vote for him, and have not been in contact since.   I keep in touch with what is going on via Conservatives such as Roger Helmer, Daniel Hannan, Bill Cash, and Chris Heaton-Harris who fight a continuous battle against Conservative EUphiles like Ken Clarke (who looks to be aiming for a nice fat job as an EU Commissioner), and Dave, their disrespected Leader.   

Strangely, many in the Labour Party have reverted to Tony Blair’s pre-1997 stance which was decidedly EU-sceptic.

Mr. Heald’s parliamentary voting record in the past year is interesting….

 

13 October 2010.   Voted against an amendment calling for a reduction in Britain’s contribution to the (draft) EU 2101 Budget.

 

10 November 2010.  Voted for European Economic Governance.

 

11 January 2011.    Voted against Sovereignty of the UK Parliament in relation to EU law.

 

18 March 2011.       Did not vote on UK Parliamentary Sovereignty Bill (second reading).

 

24 May 2011.          Voted for a hostile amendment to a motion to halt EU bailouts.
 

I am now 77.     When I was 18 I was proud to able to exercise my right to vote for the person who I thought would represent me

- and at least show sympathy for my views.

I have voted in every Parliamentary election since.

I don’t think I will bother any more.

What a shame…………………

I am still interested (but not active) in politics, and shall attend the People’s Pledge Congress on Saturday 22nd October. 

Peter R., Baldock

 
My only comment would be to reply to Peter that he should not despair – The English Democrats are here!

 
P.S. Peter referred to a letter he had received five years ago about Oliver Heald’s letter. It is out of date on some facts but worth reading anyway.  Here it is:-

 

                                                                               Tuesday, 19 December 2006

 

Dear Peter,

            Thank you for sending me a copy of Oliver Heald’s letter which he sent in response to your ‘Better off Out’ card. I would like to go through some points regarding Oliver’s letter. He refers to William Hague’s speech and the ‘benefits’ of a single market and later refers to ‘a globalised economy’. A lot of bunk is written and spoken about the Single Market. We were told we were joining a single market in the early 1970s. If it is a single market why does the EU need its own army? Why does it need Europol - the EU police force whose members are above the law? I could go on to demonstrate that primarily it is not a ‘single market’. It is an embryo superstate incorporating an internal trading bloc and a trade barrier to countries outside its membership. This restricts free world trade. Here are just two examples

1) After the Tsunami crisis the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, told the world that his country did not want financial aid. Above all Thailand wanted the European Union to lift the
punitive tariffs on shrimp exports which in recent years have inflicted more damage on its economy than the tsunami itself.

2) The European Union has imposed a 16.5 per cent anti-dumping tariff on leather shoes imported from China since October 7. This is to protect the Italian shoemaking industry.  So much for a single market which is nothing more than a protection racket.

Globalised Economy is a catch phrase used to make us think that it is a recent phenomenon. Those countries that had empires in the past have been involved in world trade for generations. It is nothing new. We gave all members of the British Empire the opportunity to become self governing, starting with India in August 1947. We then established the Commonwealth which was a successful world trading enterprise until the Conservative Party abandoned it in favour of the EU in 1972. Those who understand history know more about global trading than the current spin doctors.

Oliver refers to ‘the ability to work and travel freely within the EU’s borders’. There is considerable doubt whether on balance this is a benefit. There are many illustrations including:

i) Having open borders has left the country wide open to criminals entering the country. The Chief Inspector of Constabulary raised her concerns in her most recent Annual Report. She explained that after living in this country for three years, citizens from EU states are entitled to join our police forces. She reported that when applying to the applicants’ home countries for references she was not convinced that the responses were satisfactory. In short she fears that foreign criminals will be joining our police forces due to lack of evidence of their criminality.

ii) A great strain has been placed on our education system. There are a good number of schools which have more than 30 different basic languages amongst their pupils. This is bound to affect the education of English speaking students detrimentally and create excessive financial demands on the schools’ budgets.

iii) Immigration is often quoted as a benefit because workers from poorer countries are prepared to do work which British people won’t do. This means that there are a large number of British people living on benefits who are able to work. This is bad for our economy and indicates that many of the immigrants are prepared to work at lower than the minimum wage. A further effect is that many immigrants send money home rather than spend it in this country which is also harmful to our economy.

iv) It is often said that immigrants are contributing to our economy, but the health of the economy is measured by dividing the gross domestic product by the population which gives GDP per capita. Current figures show that GDP per capita is falling.

v) There is also a much more serious aspect relating to our relationships throughout the world. We have now reached the situation where citizens of EU states can enter this country with impunity whilst citizens of our longstanding Commonwealth allies have to apply to enter. These were the people with whom we have been trading for centuries before the buzz phrase of ‘Globalised Economy’ was coined. What Britain needs is tighter controls of our borders. This will become even more apparent after the 1st January when Hungary and Bulgaria join the EU. There is no doubt that there will be another massive influx from there, particularly from the gypsy component.

Oliver talks about the EU needing a change of direction. This shows a grave lack of understanding of our position within the EU. The EU’s impending implementation of its judicial system should encourage our politicians to take a greater interest in the workings of the EU. Before we joined the EU the unelected Commissioners defined Acquis Communautaire. It is a phrase that is rarely interpreted, but the EU Commission described it when it had to come to a decision about the accession of the United Kingdom. The Commission’s definition reads: “the applicant States accept, without reserve, the treaties and their political objectives, the decisions of any nature occurred since the entry into force of the treaties and the options taken in the field of the development and the reinforcement of the communities’. In plain English it states that any country that is admitted to the EU has to accept the total body of EU law.

The Conservative Government acknowledged this when it enacted The European Communities Act 1972. (Traitor Heath was PM at the time)

Paragraph 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 reads:

(1) All such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions from time to time created or arising by or under the (EU) Treaties, and all such remedies and procedures from time to time provided for by or under the (EU) Treaties …. are without further enactment to be given legal effect or used in the United Kingdom.’

In other words we are completely subject to EU law which takes precedence over British law. This was tested in the courts when Margaret Thatcher introduced a Merchant Shipping Act in order to regain control of our shipping waters. It failed because it breached EU law. In short when the EU issues a Directive we are treaty bound to obey it. Now that the Conservative Party talks about ‘being in Europe but not run by Europe’ it is attempting to renege on its initial undertaking. It is rather like joining a golf club and then saying that you have no intention of obeying the rules.

Even the present government admits that we suffer from too many regulations and has established a Regulation Task Force. The government is either ill informed or is practising another deception

All regulations and directives affect Britain. The Regulation Task Force has no ability to change them. It can only change the regulations which the Government adds to the overwhelming EU Regulations.

Oliver says that ‘political integration has gone far enough’ but the evidence shows that the majority of member states and a significant number of Conservative MPs and MEPs disagree with him and wish to create a federalist country. Oliver will be aware that the majority of Conservative MEPs are members of the European Peoples Party (EPP) the most federalist of the Parties in the EU parliament. When David Cameron was canvassing to become Leader of the Party he undertook to take his MEPs out of the EPP. He then not only reneged on that undertaking but he threatened to deselect those MEPs who said that they would leave the EPP anyway.

 

In October 2006 the European Parliament debated a report on the European Central Bank which included these words (paragraph 9, page 6): "Supports the introduction of the Euro by all the member states." The decision to whip Tory MEPs in favour of the report appears to have been
taken after pressure from the EPP. Five Tory MEPs resisted the whip and rejected the report: Martin Callanan, Daniel Hannan, Roger Helmer, Chris Heaton-Harris and Syed Kamall. The remaining 22 voted for the report signifying their approval of Britain abolishing the pound sterling.


At the recent Conservative Party Conference David Cameron told delegates that they were ‘to stop banging on about Europe’. The EU is the most important factor in British politics today apart from the possible exception of Iraq and Afghanistan. The evidence above shows that the Conservative Party supports further integration within the EU but this must not be revealed to the general public.

 

Oliver suggests that there are ‘certain benefits’ to our continued membership’. For years those opposed to Britain’s membership of the EU have asked successive governments for a cost benefit analysis. On each occasion the reply has been that there is no need because the benefits are obvious. If that is the case why not undertake the study to confirm that point of view? In fact earlier this year the Swiss government did carry out a cost benefit analysis and the result showed that the benefits of staying out outweighed the benefits of joining.

 

There are other factors which Oliver hasn’t raised in his letter including the reasons given for our membership of the EU which are totally unconvincing.

 

We are told that we are too small to survive by ourselves, yet we are the fourth largest economy in the world.

 

We are told that the EU has prevented war in Europe for the last fifty years. The only European war during that period was the Balkan War which was caused by the EU recognising the independence of Croatia when, in fact, it was a state within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This caused the war which led to the collapse of Yugoslavia.

 

As one delves into the machinations of the EU it becomes obvious that the purpose of the EU is to create a single European state under the influence of France and Germany. Presumably Oliver is not aware of the Elysée Treaty 1963 between the French and Germans.

 

A number of polls have been taken of Conservative Party Members. A recent one conducted by The Freedom Association shows that David Cameron leads a party 63 per cent of whose members either support or are sympathetic to its Better Off Out campaign. This doesn’t take into account those past loyal members who have deserted the Party for such organisations as UKIP. Throughout his leadership bid, Mr Cameron emphasised the need for consistency in politics. He was right to do so. In the current climate, voters are not disposed to give their politicians the benefit of the doubt. According to all the polls, the majority of electors want powers back from the EU, yet distrust the Tories on the European issue because they think - not without reason - that the Tories' Euro-scepticism is simply trotted out at election times. The EPP link justifies that belief. The Tories seem to be saying one thing in Britain, but doing another in Brussels. David Cameron's integrity, and Oliver’s, is now at stake. Leaving the EPP was the only unequivocal promise David Cameron made during his leadership campaign. Failing to deliver on the one thing he is able to do in opposition has made potential supporters doubt his ability to deliver if the Party was in government. The dogged Europhiles - Ken Clarke, Douglas Hurd, and Geoffrey Howe - need to understand this. So, too, do those Conservative MEPs who are reluctant to give up their well paid, well fed niches within the EPP. David Cameron stated that the Party needs to "change to win", but he and Oliver, must change by representing the views of the grass root members of the Party and attract back into the fold those electors who have deserted to Parties which more reflect their views.

 

The EU’s own ‘Eurobarometer’ issued its findings this week which shows that only 39 per cent of Britons think the country has benefited at all from being in the EU. It shows a majority of the electorate having little trust in the European Commission - the EU civil service - the European Parliament but most importantly our Members of Parliament. If only the Conservative Party could grasp this fact and change their attitude it could win the next election hands down.

Best regards

     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Should Cameron be prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968?

Section 14 says:- "It shall be an Offence for any person in the course of any trade or buiness

a/ to make a statement which he knows to be false; or

b/ recklessly to make a statement which is false;
as to... the nature of any service..."

In his conference speech Cameron claimed “I support gay marriage because I'm a Conservative.”
Whatever the merits of gay marriage, on whichthere are no doubt many good points to be made on either side, let us focus on what this comment reveals about Cameron’s true politics.

Wikipedia defines Conservatism is:-

"Conservatism (Latin: conservare, "to preserve") is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to the way things were."

What could be a more traditional element in our culture than the Christian concept of marriage?

Here is the full text of this part of Cameron's speech:- “But we're also doing something else. I once stood before a Conservative conference and said it shouldn't matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and another man. You applauded me for that. Five years on, we're consulting on legalising gay marriage.

And to anyone who has reservations, I say: Yes, it's about equality, but it's also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.”

A further useful clue as to where Cameron is coming from is in the Encyclopaedia Britannica which says:-
"conservatism, political doctrine that emphasizes the value of traditional institutions and practices.Conservatism is a preference for the historically inherited rather than the abstract and ideal. This preference has traditionally rested on an organic conception of society—that is, on the belief that society is not merely a loose collection of individuals but a living organism comprising closely connected, interdependent members. Conservatives thus favour institutions and practices that have evolved gradually and are manifestations of continuity and stability. Government’s responsibility is to be the servant, not the master, of existing ways of life, and politicians must therefore resist the temptation to transform society and politics.

This suspicion of government activism distinguishes conservatism not only from radical forms of political thought but also from liberalism which is a modernizing, antitraditionalist movement..."

Could this picture really be a true insight into the soul of Cameron?


Is Cameron any more "Conservative" about conserving England’s countryside? In his speech he says:-

“There's one more thing. Our businesses need the space to grow - literally. That's one of the reasons we're reforming our planning system. It's hard to blame local people for opposing developments when they get none of the benefits. We're changing that. If a new manufacturing plant is built in your area - your community keeps the business rates. If new homes get built - you keep the council tax. This is a localist plan from a localist party.

Now I know people are worried about what this means for conservation. Let me tell you: I love our countryside and there's nothing I would do to put it at risk. But let's get the balance right. The proportion of land in England that is currently built up is 9 per cent. Yes, 9 per cent. There are businesses out there desperate to expand, to hire thousands of people - but they're stuck in the mud of our planning system. Of course we're open to constructive ideas about how to get this right.”

So a clear NO there. In the interests of Big Business, Cameron is happy to concrete over England!
Then there was another classic Tory deception.

“Part of our answer is controlling immigration. So we've put a cap on the numbers of non-EU immigrants allowed to come into our country to work. We mustn't lock out talent - I want the best and brightest entrepreneurs, scientists and students from around the world to get the red carpet treatment. But the bogus colleges, the fake marriages, the people arriving for a month and staying for years, the criminals who use the Human Rights Act to try and stay in the country - we are clamping down on all of them.”

Cameron's "conservatism" has absolutely no real intention of doing anything at all about the main source of immigration, which is the EU.

My rhetorical question was - should he be prosecuted? It will be no surprise that the British Political Class does not apply the same rules to themselves, the masters, as they do to us their subject peoples, so sadly he cannot be tried and convicted in a Court of Law however knowingly or recklessly false the statement he makes.The only court in which he can be tried and convicted is what Harriet Harman called the "Court of Public Opinion"!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Enough to warm the cockles of an Englishman's heart!

Last Monday, I was driving to work and happened to hear a rare treat for English Nationalists, which I have had transcribed verbatim. It will warm the cockes of your heart!

BBC Radio 4 – Andrew Marr's "Start the Week" – Monday, 26th September 2011-09-30
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0150m8c
[Andrew Marr (AM), Simon Jenkins (SJ), Gillian Clarke (GC) and Peter Conrad (PC)]

"AM Hello nations and national stereo types in music, politics and poetry today... First ... Simon Jenkins, who is the Chairman of the National Trust, who is battling the Government over the future of the countryside just now and he has found time to produce what he calls a Short History of England, running from the Saxon Dawn, to his call for a new English Assembly, or we might say a new English Parliament, at the end of the book.
This is an unashamedly narrative history. You felt there was a gap in the market?


SJ Yes, I think like most people, I saw English history as a series of static tableaux on the stage. Henry VIII with the Dissolution of the monasteries, Agincourt and Benjamin Disraeli and so on and I really want to have to chart them all the way through the narrative, the moving together, and I wanted to do so in a grown up way, not a book for children that simply said this is the story of England and it was short. It should not be a great huge tome that you put beside your bed and fall asleep to every night but you can sort of read it at one sitting. So I wanted to write literally a short history of England.

AM You were of a generation as I was brought up with battles, kings and queens, dates and so on so you have got narrative history as a child, that is what you were fed.

SJ Quite honestly no.

AM No

SJ I remember doing 19th Century Europe and Norman feudalism and so on but no-one ever taught me that the run through from the beginning to the end and therefore you got no sense of Cause and Effect, you didn’t know how the civil war followed on from the dissolution of the monasteries from the decline of feudalism. I just wanted to see how these things linked together. The parallel that I draw, the people who know London because they know Piccadilly Circus, Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner, they don’t know the roads in between. I was trying to tell the story of the roads in between, in a simple a way as possible.

AM And this is very much the story of England not of Britain?

SJ The other theme, which actually was a voyage of discovery for me, I really was discovering about my own country, England that England is quite distinct from Wales, Scotland and Ireland not to mention the rest of the British Empire that was, and when you look at England and not as Britain, most histories of Britain are just Britain, including yours, and they kind of get side-tracked into what are quite distinct identities - these are the countries and when you are in

AM Becoming more distinct

SJ And becoming more so. I actually think I would predict were I so minded the eventual dissolution of the first British Empire which is the empire of the British Isles. No England is a proper country. It is a very remarkable country. I can rather boast about it. It is one of the most remarkable countries in Europe, if not the World. Its achievements are amazing! It ruled the world or much of the world for a while and it is in a collective decline as a inferiority complex for almost half a century but I think as Scotland goes; Ireland has gone, we almost forget; Wales will never completely go but it is becoming more and more distinct as a place. I think England will rediscover its identity and I think that is a valuable thing.

AM Because there is a hero in your book, as it were, but it is an institutional hero.

SJ The hero of the book is unquestionably Parliament. I am not a parliamentarian, I find Parliament a rather exasperating place, but to watch the emergence of Parliament from the early Witans, through the King’s Councils to Simon de Montfort and then this extraordinary assertion of Parliamentary Sovereignty in the 17th Century and then the collapse of Kingship under the Hanoverians. You have parliament parties, Walpole, Pitt and so on asserting themselves and this great event. I think the greatest event in English history, which is 1832 when Parliament decides there will not be a revolution in Britain as there was right across Europe because they have got to concede reform and the concession of reform in 1832 and onwards after that was the turning point when Britain became a hugely prosperous, essentially liberal country. It was a phenomenal event in European history and I think one which we can put it bluntly be pretty proud.

AM And relatively under discussed these days isn’t it. It is not something that people talk about much the great reform as they used to.

SJ Well one of the curiosities of English history is how many dates really don’t matter that much. 1066 was a battle between two Viking warlords, it wasn’t the Normans against the Saxons. Magna Carta was negated within two years. 1688 the glorious revolution was kind a spoof version of the invasion of Britain by the Dutch. 1832 mattered. 1832 was when really the aristocracy were told by Wellington that their game was up. They had to concede.

AM 1688 matters too doesn’t it. That is the moment when Parliament does finally establish its powers.

SJ 1688 matters, I mean dates matter. 1660 matters because of the Restoration we decide that revolution was ghastly and move the King back. All these dates matter. 1714 mattered when Queen Anne died and the Tories almost all wanting to have the Stuarts back and there is a sort of putsch and the Hanoverians. I give you 1832.

AM In terms of where we are now, to what extent do you think there has been the retreat from Empire. Has there been a retreat through the institutions:- the military, Parliament now in a pretty bad way, some of the institutions that were at the heart of your story, as it were now falling back a bit.

SJ One of the essences of English Liberty has always been Territoriality. It has been the Barons against the King, it has been territory against the King. These elements of localism I have always regarded as very important and I think the decline of localism in England, not I may say in France or in Germany or in Spain where it is if anything on the ascendant, the decline of localism in Britain is really deleterious. Parliament is left very important in the last election Parliament dictated how country should be ruled. So Parliament remains a totally dominant institution but I think Parliament and Government and Parliament are far too powerful and you are left with only really the British press over against parliament causing real trouble.

AM Do you have any sense, it is clear from the end of the book that you think the time is coming for an English Parliament or an English Assembly to rebalance things. Now that might happen simply because the Scots and the Welsh just carry on going their own way. Do you have any sense of the road through to that, how it might happen?

SJ It is very difficult. I think the English parliament was there before the Welsh and Scots and Irish were added to it. They have now been taken away from it and not being deprived of with the relevant number of MPs. I imagine one day that will come but we are looking way ahead, but one day I think one day the Parliament at Westminster will be the Parliament of England.

AM Gilliam Clarke - a Welsh voice?

G C I think it is extremely helpful that you started the book but not with the Saxon story but with the Celtic story. Very few stories in history do that. Children are starting with the Romans on the syllabus in England which means that we in Wales did feel a bit progressively and self-consciously Welsh because we were left out of the story. Your book not only includes the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish but actually therefore casts huge light on England. I love England much more now that I feel free from that sense that all the grown ups live in London and that we must do in Wales exactly what we were told. Do you think that children ought too in fact begin their learning of the history of England by knowing about the Celts?

SJ I actually start with adults rather than children. May be because the history books are meant for children. Give me the bloody adults first! Let’s get them in hand! Yes I did start with the Saxons so to speak arriving although there is a great debate as to whether they ever arrived or were they here all along but you are quite right England was born out of the pushing away, pushing back, of the Celts and it was a ferocious, savage, I mean however it was portrayed by modern archaeology, it clearly was a traumatic event and nothing again ever equalled it. The Anglo-Saxon language was the English language and swept away whatever was there before, the Brithonic or Celtic languages. When the Normans came and the Vikings came all subsequent invasions never succeeded in crushing the English language and it was the English language which I take as a great token of Englishness it carried forward right across the British Isles, the first Empire. It was carried across the British Empire, the second empire. It remains when the British Empire receded. They speak English right across the Commonwealth. It will remain when the British Empire in the British Isles recedes. It is spoken in Ireland. Englishness and English language and English culture are just phenomenally potent, they are very, very, powerful forces.

AM From that early mixing, that early grafting of two or three different

SJ It is moot whether there was much of a grafting or mixing. There is very little Brithonic, very little Welsh, or Gaelic, in English.

GC Apparently about 450 words in the English language are Welsh.

AM One of the points that you made in the past is the Welsh, what we call Welsh, was spoken really across Yorkshire, Scotland, all the way up.

GC The whole of the west of Britain.

SJ The thing you cannot mention in Wales is a joke that said the finest Welsh is spoken in North Wales because it comes from Cumbria, which of course is a Welsh word.

GC That is perfectly right.

SJ Your great hero Anirin.

GC And Wales was an English word.

SJ I was only saying to Andy that when you land in Edinburgh airport they have the cheek to write it up in English and Gaelic. It should be English and Welsh because they spoke Welsh in Edinburgh.

GC They did indeed.

AM Peter Conrad, you are an Australian by birth?

PC I was just about to confess that, although you will probably hear it the moment I open my mouth, so I am a bit detached from all of this but as someone who has lived here ever since being a student I just wonder whether this fragmentation, you know, aren’t we going to finish up with a completely tribalised society or no society at all? I mean not the sort of society that Margaret Thatcher was denying the existence of but a world of Gangs? Isn’t Britain, as a kind of useful fiction, because it is something that people who come here from all different parts of the world can pledge a kind of allegiance to? You remember the Queen and that famous speech that she made the night before Diana’s funeral - told everyone to be British, next day? She couldn’t have told them to be English could she?

SJ It is the new political correctness. You are absolutely right! When I was a boy the one thing I was taught was always talk about the “British Empire”. That is Britain IS the Empire. No-one does that any more but we still talk about “Britain”. You write as history, you have to write history of Britain and you have to eulogise the Union. David Cameron says ‘I would lay down my life for the Union’. Why? What is so good about the Union? The Irish have gone already, the Scots are clearly going. Why is it an absolute requirement of a British politician endlessly to harp on about “Britain”. I just think it would be quite useful if we accepted that there is a certain amount, of you call it Tribalism, but I call it Devolution.

PC Doesn’t there have to be some fiction of cohesion though, so that we all feel that with our different histories and different backgrounds, we are sharing something.

SJ Peter, on the day when the fiction of European Union is decomposing because it was an artificial Union. It had no flexibility, it had no acknowledgement of the differences of nations in it. It is decomposing at the moment. It is a bad time to be preaching, the suppression of tribalism!"

How are the cockles of your heart now???

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Is Britishness now doomed?

When even the Brit-fanatic Daily Mail prints that ENGLAND "has been the world’s most astonishingly successful small state" then britishness must really be in trouble!

Here's today's article:-

Freedom for England!

From a distinguished liberal writer, a surprising call to arms, By SIMON JENKINS

If I had to buy shares in a nation just now I would buy England. Not the United Kingdom, that is, but England. Each year the union that once bound the British Isles together sees the same constitutional malaise as is infecting Britain’s other union, the European one. Most of Ireland broke away in 1920. Scotland claims ever more autonomy. Visit Edinburgh these days and it feels like Dublin. Even Wales, with no autonomy since Norman times, is detaching itself.

What historians call the first British empire is going the way of the second, larger, one. It is the march of history; nothing is likely to stop it.

England is the Cinderella of British history. The Irish, Scots and Welsh have a distinctive history and culture, and regard England and the English as separate. It is the English who still talk of Britain and the British, insisting that histories of Britain treat the islands as a homogeneous whole.


Proud history: Richard The Lionheart of England, played by Steve Waddington in the BBC television series Robin Hood

This distorts the status of the Celtic countries, and it relegates England to a land of hysterical sports fanatics and tattooed extremists, waving the flag of St George and chanting obscenities at foreigners.

Having just completed a short history of England – written to be enjoyed in three hours – I find this sad. England is a proper country, separate from the half of the British Isles that is not England. The Anglo-Saxons overran the ancient Britons in the Dark Ages but they never fully conquered and certainly never assimilated the Celts beyond Offa’s Dyke, Hadrian’s Wall and the Irish Sea. For most of history they treated these peoples with colonial disdain and were treated rebelliously in return.

British political correctness cannot conceal the fact that the British Isles have never been a harmonious entity. The English like to imagine Britain as one happy family, but that is not how it was seen by followers of Llywelyn, Glyndwr, Wallace, Bruce, Tyrone or Parnell. The Irish never accepted English rule. The Scots are ruled by nationalists and their Tories now feel obliged to seek a separate identity. The political chains binding the Welsh to England, forged by Lloyd George and then the Labour Party, are breaking.

So what of England? Its story is the more remarkable when shorn of ‘Britishness’. It has been the world’s most astonishingly successful small state. Though conquered by Vikings and Normans, the English never surrendered their language and assimilated newcomers with ease. From the 11th Century onwards, few wars were fought on English soil, enabling towns to grow rich and entrenching territorial families, many of whom, like the Percys, the Stanleys and the Howards, remain extant to this day.

England’s story is customarily told as a pageant of personalities and events, such as the Peasants’ Revolt, the Napoleonic Wars, the British Empire and Hitler. It is history as a series of scenes without a linking script.
I see it in more old-fashioned terms as a continuous saga, in which England’s leaders struggled with the English people to fashion a coherent nation state. This state went on to rule a stable empire and admit the earliest liberal democracy in the world.

Liberal: Simon Jenkins

As today, the struggle of ‘consent to rule’ concerned money. The English people would finance the ceaseless Plantagenet wars only in return for rights and freedoms, first laid down in Magna Carta in 1215. This gave birth to the early parliaments under Henry III, which by the 17th Century had taken on much of the character they have today.

The Civil War victory over the Stuarts was thanks to Parliament. By the time of the Hanoverians in the 18th Century, the Monarchy was so diminished that England turned easily to parties, prime ministers and cabinets, while rulers elsewhere in Europe were still chopping off each other’s heads.

In 1832, with Europe convulsed by revolutionary wars, Parliament crucially kept control of reform. It introduced a steadily widening franchise and laid the foundations of a welfare state. The British Empire was able to expand and prosper, untroubled by domestic turbulence. English men and women travelled, traded, married, preached and fought round the globe. By the end of the Victorian era this tiny country, refashioned with Scotland and Ireland as a united kingdom, could regard itself as globally supreme.

This United Kingdom – and the Empire – found its greatest moments in the shared experience of two world wars against Germany. But the Empire soon withered into an insipid Commonwealth, Ireland broke free in 1920 and in 1999 partial autonomy was devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Tory politicians, such as Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron, might ‘fight for the Union with every drop of my blood’, but ever more English people wonder why. In a recent poll, fewer than half of English voters would oppose Scottish independence.

I believe it will one day be imperative for England to rediscover its constitutional identity. The notorious ‘West Lothian question’ asked why MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which now run their own local services, should still legislate on England’s schools, hospitals and transport.

The answer to the question is simple. Either allow England’s counties or regions the same autonomy as Scotland and Wales – which is unrealistic – or give England back its parliament.

There is no good reason why, now that both Ireland and Scotland have their parliaments and executive ministers, England should not have the same things. Few of the matters discussed in today’s House of Commons concern the devolved assemblies. With fiscal devolution on the way, there will be fewer still. The House of Commons should sit as an English parliament once more, and England’s prime minister should sit in Downing Street.

There is no likelihood of the United Kingdom breaking up, any more than the Commonwealth. I do not think, as yet, most Scots or Welsh really want total separation. The United Kingdom will retain the Monarch and a separately constituted chamber, perhaps located in the present House of Lords. A joint executive would deal with shared matters of trade, migration and foreign affairs.

But England has a distinctiveness that should, I believe, emerge more positively with self-rule. Romantics might see it reflecting the robust ‘kith and kin’ localism that attracted the Victorians to their Saxon past.
Certainly it might roll back the post-war suppression of civic identity in England’s great cities, and the reduction of historic counties to near-ceremonial status.

Certainly it might roll back the post-war suppression of civic identity in England’s great cities, and the reduction of historic counties to near-ceremonial status.

At the very least, the idea of Englishness needs rescuing from the pseudo-nationalism that now consumes it, and has become code for antagonism both to the Celtic nations and to immigrants and foreigners of any sort.

England’s long-standing open door fed both its economy and its liberal tradition. But that in turn required a clear concept of English tolerance and stable politics to sustain it. And that means keeping a sense of national identity in tandem with political institutions.

The key lies with Parliament. Since the days of the first Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, this cockpit of politics has never capitulated to a revolutionary mob. It has been cautiously sensitive to social and political movements outside its gates.

If it does not reform, it will see English voters increasingly resentful at being ruled by non-English MPs from a subsidised Celtic fringe. English nationalism will become rampant.

Parliament must soon review its relations with the unpopular European Union. It should take the opportunity to recast its domestic federation, to seek a new constitution that accepts the growing autonomy of the Celtic peoples, and the right to self-government of England itself.

Simon Jenkins’s A Short History Of England is published by Profile at £25

Sir Simon David Jenkins (born 10 June 1943) is a British newspaper columnist and author, and since November 2008 has been chairman of the National Trust. He currently writes columns for both the Guardian and London's Evening Standard, and was previously a commentator for The Times, which he edited from 1990 to 1992.

A former editor of both The Times and the Evening Standard, he received a knighthood for services to journalism in the 2004 New Year honours.

He married the American actress Gayle Hunnicutt in 1978; the couple separated in 2008.

Last updated at 12:08 AM on 2nd October 2011