Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Police Brutality in Brussels: Contains Disturbing Images.

This footage was shot by a friend of mine, and when first posted on You Tube it attracted 200,000 hits, and has prompted an enquiry at ministerial level.

I do warn, it is quite shocking.

I have witnessed the way in which the Brussels police deal with demonstrations - it is not unusual for me to leave my home in the morning and find huge water cannon vehicles parked in the road. Razor wire barriers can be found in the streets and squares pretty much any day, waiting to be used at the drop of a hat.

Personally, I have found police officers here to be most helpful - even the one who threatened to fine me for jaywalking was quite polite about the whole thing.

But here, something has clearly gone wrong.

Friday, 21 September 2012

UKIP: volte-face ou deux face?

UKIP Policy Spokesman Explains the Party's Position on a Referendum.
UKIP seems to have developed an obsession with a referendum all of a sudden. From "a referendum is a bad idea because if we lose it we are finished" and orders from the bunker not to sign Nikki Sinclaire's petition calling for a referendum, we now see them desperately trying to reclaim the political space they thought was theirs alone.

Now there is speculative talk of an electoral pact. This is not the first time such an idea has been put forward, but previously it has always been done under the table. If David Davies had won the Tory leadership, we would probably be looking at a different political landscape now.

Of course, such things have always been strenuously denied in the past. A pact would undermine UKIP's political integrity. Now, integrity can go hang, it is all about survival. In any case, how would the Lib Dems react to a Tory pact with UKIP? The Lib Dems are in Westminster, UKIP is not. Guess which is the most attractive option to a beleaguered government in a hung parliament? You don't have to be Robert Dahl to work that one out.

Nice to see Katie Hopkins on the Daily Politics show yesterday. Just 2 weeks ago UKIP had no idea we even existed as a party, and now we are alongside them on the most important political show of all. Complacency, chaps, can be the most dangerous thing of all!

Campaign for a Referendum: Former UKIP Leader Comes on Board!

Roger Knapman was the architect of UKIP's 2004 Euro-elections triumph which saw 12 MEPs elected. On the back of the campaign, 2 UKIP members were also elected to the London Regional Assembly.

Roger is also just about the most personable politician I have ever worked for, and he is much missed in Brussels. And so I am absolutely delighted that he has joined our campaign for a referendum and will be speaking at our conference in London on October 5th.

Roger has always been totally committed to the idea of a binding in or out referendum, and has supported us from the day we launched the campaign, 2 years ago in Torquay.

Since the launch of We Demand A Referendum as a political party 2 weeks ago, press interest has been intense. This has all the makings of a great, and successful, campaign, and from my point of view Roger's involvement is a great boost. It am delighted to be working with him again.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Campaign for a Referendum: Coverage in the Daily Star.

Its been a great day for press coverage, this one from the Daily Star is just great!

After a very positive meeting with a publisher I returned from lunch to another two invitations to submit copy to media outlets.

This one is close to reaching critical mass now.

Campaign for a Referendum: More Press Coverage

A nice piece in Parliament magazine!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Campaign For a Referendum: We're in Business!

Its Official!

Its been a nervous few days, but finally yesterday the launch of 'We Demand A Referendum' was announced in the media.

Following a week of intense media coverage, and the handing in of another 100,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street, The Sun newspaper has come out in support of our campaign.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Campaign for a Referendum: Signatures Handed In!

Yesterday went well, and another 100,000 signatures were succesfully handed in to Number 10!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Campaign for a Referendum: Just Keeps Getting Better!

Its been about 8 years since I saw a campaign take off like this has.

When you hear strangers in the lift discussing it, then you know you are onto a winner!

Campaign for a Referendum: a Statement from Nikki Sinclaire MEP.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Friday, 7 September 2012

Everyday's A Holly Day!

Today marks the 76th anniversary of the birth of Buddy Holly.

In a short career, Buddy changed the face of popular music. Multi-tracking and overdubbing are just two of the recording techniques he pioneered.

Had he not been taken away so tragically in 1959, along with J.P. Richardson and Richie Valens, we can only speculate on what else he may have achieved. His traditional country style, his use of classical musicians on such tracks as 'Raining in my Heart', his simple but imaginitive tricks with percussion, all sat side by side on recordings that sold millions overnight.

Today, his records continue to sell in impressive quantities, and new generations of musicians who take so much from his style are following in the direct footsteps of John Lennon, Adam Faith, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and so many others.

In Lubbock, Texas, the Buddy Holly Center is marking the day, and inviting comments from fans.

Last year, Buddy's star was unvieled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the presence of his widow Maria Elena, Phil Everly, Gary Busey, Priscilla Presley, and others. A Buddy and Maria Elena Plaza was also named in Lubbock last year.

The date of his death, Feb 3rd 1959, is marked as 'The Day the Music Died' in Texas.

The sheer amount of music that Buddy produced meant that his record label was issueing new releases for more than 10 years after his death. Even now, 'alternate takes' appear from time to time. Remarkable when we consider that he was only 22 years old when he died.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

More on Libertarianism

Cartoon by Andy Singer

I was interested to note that a British MEP is sponsoring a competition inviting people to come up with the 'Definition of Libertarianism'.

Coincidentally, I blogged on this recently, drawing parallels between Libertarianism and Moral Relativism, the latter being a concept generally associated with Marx.  In a nutshell, moral relativists believe that there are no absolutes of right or wrong, only an awareness of what they can get away with.
Libertarianism is very much about pushing boundaries, and as such might be described as progressive, and certainly as left wing. If one is really interested in how left wing is defined within the context of socialist political thought, then I would recommend Lenin's 'Left wing socialism: an infantile disorder'. I think a reading would confirm my categorisations of libertarianism.

Pushing boundaries is good. Given that English law is based on precedent, and that many of our laws are very old, indeed ancient, and with many of our societal values being based on religious views that some may consider to be outdated, we should be asking ourselves constantly if we are being served well by our structures and institutions.

But libertarianism is often used in another way. Whilst I know a number of people who classify themselves as such, and who are above reproach, libertarianism can be used by others as a means of justifying, or more worryingly, of normalising behaviour that is outside the currently accepted boundaries.

Because I know that he himself is certainly in the former category, I will use Dr Sean Gabb as an example. He is without doubt the leading champion of libertarianism in the UK.

In 2003 Dr Gabb wrote: "When I say that some acts should not be crimes, I specifically mean possession of child pornography. By all means, those who produce such images by persuading children to take part in sexual acts, and those who commission such images, should be treated as criminals. But possessing such images, and even distributing them when produced abroad, should not be a crime."

I disagree with him strongly, but do I agree that laws, like values, should be regularly reviewed and evaluated. However, to place this particular issue in the context of a peripheral political ideology is, I would argue, dangerous, not least because it can attract those to whom Dr Gabb's argument might appeal for, shall we say, other reasons. I am aware of one person who has been subject to serious allegations in this area, and who is a committed libertarian. As a former senior police officer recently told me "Show me a coincidence, and I'll show you the chief suspect."

I would say at this point that whilst I am not a libertarian, I agree with Dr Gabb in far more areas than I would disagree with him. His opposition to political correctness and his conservatism in many areas show how blurred the line between left and right has become. To labour that particular point, libertarianism could certainly be defined as revolutionary (left-wing), whilst the concept of small government (right-wing) is at the heart of all libertarian manifestos that I have seen.

Isn't politics fascinating?

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Existentialism & Inevitabilty.

 Existentialists, by definition, make lousy strategists. Therefore one might not expect to find them working in politics.Having said that, Sartre, with his ever changing perception of what constituted his own reality may well have found a home in UKIP.

Jean-Paul Sartre, 1905-1980
Many years ago, I went through something of an existentialist phase. To be honest, I was having a strained relationship with my Commanding Officer, a lovely man, who took the role of father figure a bit too seriously and would often talk to me at great length about certain attitudes I was displaying. I decided that if I adopted a more Bohemian approach to my duties, and began quoting Corso and Ginsberg endlessly, I could really screw with his mind.

It worked, and he sort of gave up on me and left me to myself. Flight Lieutenant Montgomergy, "Monty", was as good a CO as you could ever ask for, and I hope that he is still with us. I also hope, for his own peace of mind, he has completely forgotten our talks.

Why do I mention this? Because something occured to me late last night that has set me to thinking...

Sartre challenged the concept of Inevitability.  (Actually, he challenged most things, but let's stick to inevitability).

"I have to get up for work", "I have to wear shoes today", etc, etc. This is inevitability, and it is Bull. We don't have to do anything, we choose to do what is best for us. Whatever gives us the greatest security, pleasure, or reward, is what we deem to be best. Sometimes, for reasons of altruism, we make our choice based on what is best for others, the point is that we must be prepared to transcend the demmands of societal norms if we are really to be ourselves..

British politics, defined by petty party-based parochialism, does seem to be wrapped in a cloak of inevitability.

Perhaps this is because of the convergence of political thought that means that ideology has been replaced within the political elites by management skills and spin. But Britain is not a bus service. It was, and surely can again become, the most outwardly looking, inventive, and economically successful nation on the planet. This requires thinking, and acting, outside of the box. I do not believe that the three largest parties are capable of this. UKIP is influenced too much by Thatcherism - a great idea at the time, and just what the country needed - but we do not need a 1970s solution to the problems of the 21st century. The Greens have influenced the thinking of all parties, and may now have passed their sell-by date. Old ideology is academic, and rarely relevant to the needs of the present day.

Having said that, were he still alive, Sartre would be the last person we need as PM. But wouldn't it be refreshing if David Cameron were to walk into the Cabinet Office one day and ask "Do we really have to do all of this?" Wouldn't it be great if instead of the bureaucratic grind that life in Britain has become, every single thing we did had the flair and panache of the London Olympics?

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

UKIP Defence Policy: Order More F35s Then Cancel The Purchase!

Policy watchers love to find contradictions, and here is a beauty courtesy of UKIP, who never cease to entertain in this particular area.

UKIP's Defence Policy, as posted on the party website on June 14th 2011 includes the line "Increase RAF capability by buying more essential helicopters, transport aircraft and 50 extra JSF Lightning aircraft". The JSF is, of course, the F35, which is being purchased to equip the carriers now being built for the Royal Navy.

Now lets fast forward to a statement put out by the party in January of this year.

"The UK should cancel the purchase of the F-35C and invest in developing a naval variant of the Eurofighter Typhoon, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has said."

Lord Alexander Hesketh, UKIP's defence spokesman said that "adopting a naval Typhoon would allow the UK to restore carrier strike capability on its Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers before 2020 while saving money and protecting UK jobs."

So which is it, buy 50 more, or cancel the whole order? Is the party defence spokesman really diametrically opposed to his own party's policy?

Aside from chuckles at the contradiction, consider this. The Typhoon could not land on an aircraft carrier without the use of an arrestor hook, and that would weigh 500kg, seriously impair the aircraft's operational capabilities, and neccesitate a major structural redesign of the airframe. It is also the case that whilst the carriers are designed in such a way that arrestor wires could be fitted at a later stage, they are not currently being fitted, as VSTOL aircraft such as the F35 do not need such equipment.

The idea of a 'navalised' Typhoon for the RN was considered, but was rejected in 2001. A single non-flying prototype has been produced in response to an Indian invitation to tender, although the modifications needed to both aircraft and carrier rendered it not cost-effective.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Max Bygraves Has Left The Building

Max was born in Rotherhithe, or Redriff as we often call it. It is a famous and deeply historic little peninsula that sits by, and is generally accepted as being a part of, Bermondsey. Its a district that is known almost as much for producing artistic talent as it was for being the tough heartland of the London Docks for many years, indeed centuries. I was for some years a governor of Redriff school, something of which I am very proud. Max attended St Joseph's school, one of two schools in the area bearing that name (the other being in St George's row, on what was once known as Jacob's Island, and which my daughter attended), when it was in Paradise Street at the heart of the old Bermondsey ghetto.

Max was an ex-RAF man like myself and so many of my family. He served during the Second World War.

To be frank, we have been expecting this news for some time. Max has been unwell for a while now, and the passing of his wife Gladys last year left him vulnerable. Gladys had served with the WAAFs.

Max was one of the biggest stars in British showbiz, and was also huge in Australia, where he spent his final years.

He took the London tradition of music hall and turned it into contemporary entertainment for a new audience. Despite what appears to be a mild criticism of Teddy Boys in his  hit recording of Lionel Bart's  'Fings ain't wot they used to be', Max is much loved by London Teds for his elegance, humour, and the fact that he never attempted to hide his Cockney roots. 

89 years is a good innings, and Max enjoyed his life. He gave a huge amount of pleasure to so many people. I remember watching his TV show with my grandmother when I was a nipper. He was a truly great entertainer.

Max Bygraves 1922-2012