Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Times Leader is right on airport expansion

Below is the Times leader for 3rd September 2014. I have put the date in as I am so shocked I want to remember the day. The Times agrees with Boris and millions of others that Heathrow expansion would be disastrous. In addition ruling out the Thames estuary airport shows a complete poverty of ambition, lack of vision and signals a weak future.

In my view anyone who believes the expansion of Heathrow is the answer is an idiot. Full stop.

The article is laid out in full below but the link to it and subsequent comments is here.

"This Island Race"

The rejection of an airport in the Thames Estuary is a depressing mistake

There is a hidden convention in Whitehall that a difficult decision is made more palatable if it is recommended not by the politician who has to make it but by an independent body. When the prime minister appointed Sir Howard Davies to run the Airports Commission it seemed a ruse to legitimise a decision that had already been taken.

The suspicion was that David Cameron had come to regret his pledge that he would not permit a third runway at Heathrow Airport. The Davies Commission was a way of unravelling that promise by providing an independent rationale for a change of policy should the Conservative party win the 2015 election. That suspicion has been confirmed by Sir Howard’s regrettable decision to throw out the prospect of building a four-runway hub airport in the Thames Estuary, a plan that has been enthusiastically supported by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Mr Cameron’s promise on Heathrow was so clear that his credibility would be at risk if he were to renege on it. As he said, the extra disruption to an already crammed west London that would result from expanding Heathrow, as well as the noise and pollution,would be too great. Heathrow is already the noisiest airport in Europe. This position, however, pinned him in a corner from which the Davies Commission was designed to free him.

That Britain needs extra airport capacity is not in doubt. Indeed, the best case for a new hub airport on the Isle of Grain in the Thames Estuary is that an expanded Heathrow would be full no sooner had it been built. An airport with three runways will not even match Paris or Frankfurt, which have four, or Amsterdam, which has six. As soon as the third runway was in operation, which would not be for 15 years, the pressure would begin for another. It is not a viable future for Britain that it should continue without a direct flight to, for example, Osaka in Japan. The hub airport for flights between China and Europe is already Frankfurt. The evidence that more business is done in countries into which flights come directly is clear.

The problems of trying to locate such an airport in a suburb of west London are obvious. The cost of the Thames Estuary, at £26 billion by 2030, is likely to be much less than Davies suggests. The Confederation for British Industry has pointed out regularly that Gatwick cannot be the answer as it does not offer the capacity. However, now that Sir Howard has said that “Boris island” will not be added to the shortlist for the final phase of deliberations, Heathrow is emerging as the only option.

This whole issue needs politicians to lift their sights and their ambition, as Mr Johnson has done. The benefits of a bolder approach are, according to the Greater London Authority and Transport for London, the creation of more than 200,000 jobs. By 2050 the airport could be contributing £92 million to the British economy. The longer-term benefit is that Britain would be at the hub of a wheel of trading connections. The Davies decision shows that a 50-year history of avoiding tough decisions is not yet going to come to an end.

The argument about building a new airport began in the 1960s. In the half century that has followed other nations have argued about, concluded on and built their airports. Britain has suffered from ambition blight, compounded by a planning blight. This perfunctory look at the Thames Estuary and an ill-considered dismissal is a stitch-up to hide a decision already made. Britain is the loser.

Sunday, 31 August 2014


I haven't bookmarked a new website for ages. I think most people start off by bookmarking all their favourites and then quickly fade out. We then get stuck in a loop of looking at the same sites all the time, which is fair enough.

Today I found a new site I like and ExtremeTech gets bookmarked. It's a site that does what it says on the tin and has some very interesting stories. Go and have a look.

What a week of news

Major news everywhere;

1) ISIS, Syria, Iraq and UK Security.

2) Russia invades Ukraine.

3) Second Scottish independence debate and aftermath.

4) Tory MP Douglas Carswell defects to UKIP and announces by election in Clacton.

5) Rotherham child abuse, monumental scale - the horror.

6) Missing Ashya King found in Spain. The truth will out eventually. All odd.

7) Man UTD can't win and nor can the English cricket team.

8) Technological breakthroughs everywhere.

9) Libya falls apart.

10) Massive immigration numbers continue.

Etc etc etc

I'd have thought the potential break up of the Union via the Scottish referendum would have been bigger news but maybe people are bored of it at present. It will pick up again at the end of next week as we get close to the ballot day. The quality of the debate was awful, just shameful.

The Ukrainian situation is madness, but highlights how powerless EU countries are as no one has a credible military apart from UK and France and those forces are now quite small in number if technologically quite advanced. The light is fading.

ISIS are a small group, well financed, over stretched and crackers. Assad has played a blinder in Syria by allowing their growth which deflects attention from him. It has also highlighted how weak the Iraqi state is, indeed I don't think it exists on the ground. I just hope our intelligence services did know what was going on but were ignored. If they didn't they are rubbish.

The Rotherham child abuse scandal is just beyond belief. Awful. Nothing seems to change and I doubt another "inquiry" will help. Needs societal change. I fear it's the tip of an iceberg and we would all like the nasty news to go away, which is of course how it thrives.

The UKIP phenomenon continues. The Westminster bubbles ability to consistently underestimate them never ceases to amaze. The commentariat have been hopelessly wrong highlighting North London liberals detachment from planet earth. If Carswell retains his Clacton seat as a UKIP MP following the by election it will be a game changer. It will show people that they can kick the LibLabCon elite and get results. Utterly disastrous for Cameron and Miliband.

Some news is even good news! For example various cancer and heart treatment breakthroughs. Normal panes of glass can now be utilised for solar power. Lots of it is tech related stuff that may help save us all!

Etc etc etc

It just seemed to be an incredible week of news.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Tim Montgomerie nails Tory problems

The below is taken from an article written by Tim Montgomerie on ConservativeHome and is worth repeating in full:

"UKIP won 27 per cent of the vote in the European Elections and about 18 per cent in last week’s local contests. They won 3 per cent at the last general election. How much will they win next year? I reckon at least 6 per cent – and anything like 8 per cent makes it difficult for the Tories to win a majority.

We know UKIP’s core vote is largely an ex-Tory phenomenon. My fear is that UKIP may now be a permanent feature of the political landscape. They’re now much more than a Eurosceptic movement. They are the most working class of Britain’s main parties. They are the representative of the people against the political class (even though Mr Farage is, as David Cameron says, a “consummate politician” and Neil “Tatton” Hamilton is one of their leading spokespeople).

Nigel Farage is talking about spending the next few months putting together a shadow cabinet of his most talented members (and, yes, there are a few) to prove UKIP isn’t a one man band. The Observer reports that UKIP will target about twenty seats. It now has a good number of councillors, MEPs, members and donors to build a credible machine in those target seats.

David Cameron has a year to kill UKIP off – or allow some local accommodations. Otherwise “The Man Who Divided The Eurosceptic Right” will be carved on his political gravestone. In my list of the ten creators of UKIP he’s currently number one. Can he now become its destroyer?

In Ascending Order of Potency: The Ten Creators of UKIP

1) The Daily Express. UKIP has suffered from a lot of hostility from what we once called Fleet Street (although it may also have sometimes thrived on it in a Millwallian “Everyone Hates Us, We Don’t Care” kind of way) but it always had The Express. The newspaper began campaigning for Britain to leave the EU a few years ago and gave Nigel Farage a fair wind on an almost daily basis on its pages. It often felt like it was performing the job that the “Torygraph” of yesteryear performed for the Conservative Party. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that Patrick O’Flynn, now a UKIP MEP and comms chief to Mr Farage, was its chief political commentator during that period.

2) Political Class Consensualism. Immigration and Europe are the most important issues driving UKIP. Expenses, political aloofness and broken promises are the less tangible drivers. But there are also the issues where all of the parties agree. The war in Afghanistan. The aid budget. Higher energy prices to combat climate change. UKIP do well when they’re seen to oppose the “LibLabCon”.

3) Cameron’s pollsters. They should have provided him with an early warning that his Right-leaning voters were unhappy. They didn’t. Just as they missed the weakness of his 2010 campaign messages they never saw the revolt coming (I know this because they kept telling me there wasn’t a problem). Lynton Crosby did but the “Wizard of Oz” only arrived after the UKIP genie had escaped the bottle. It’s now very hard to put it back.

4) Poor internal Tory democracy. The Tea Party has grown, thrived and retreated (a bit) within America’s Republican Party. It didn’t set up on its own because internal Republican Party democracy was strong enough for Tea Partiers to feel they could oust “RINOs” (Republicans In Name Only) who supported big government and “un-American” values. This has meant that the GOP has been through a messy time but the two party system has been retained. There has been no new Ross Perot. The internal battles have forced the Republican establishment to listen to the casualties of the Global Financial Crash and Tea Partiers – by overreaching in some primary deselection battles – have learnt to compromise a little. I recommend Ross Douthat’s op-ed on the latest state of the Tea Party in Sunday’s New York Times.

5) Ed Miliband. It’s unfair to blame the current Labour leader for all of the Labour Party’s working class problem but many UKIP voters look at him and his fellow achingly cool modern Labourites (yes, Chuka, I’m thinking of you) and see “guacamole-dipping, skinny latte-sipping effete types”. Those aren’t my words, they’re the words of Labour MP Simon Danczuk in the Mail on Sunday. A Labour Party led by former postie Alan Johnson, for example, might have connected with blue collar Britain and its values but Mr Miliband struggles to. Mr Miliband thinks he can win over the working classes with endless economic pledges (more government spending, rent controls, energy price freezes, higher taxes on the wealthy). Putting aside for the moment that there’s still a very big deficit he fails to understand the cultural gap between Miliband’s Labour Party and its heartland voters. On integration of immigrants. On Islamification. On welfare. On trusting the people in a referendum on Europe. UKIP isn’t just an economic phenomenon but a cultural revolt too.

6) Illiberal liberals. I support gay marriage (shamefully, I was resistant to homosexual equality but now have the zeal of a convert) but, but, but I don’t think most traditionalists are homophobes. I think smart immigration benefits Britain but net immigration of 200,000 per year has never been endorsed by Britain’s voters. It’s too much. Have you seen house prices? I want British firms to have to invest in British workers and not always take the easy way out in employing people from abroad. However else are we going to cap the welfare bill for the working age population? Too many self-styled liberals don’t face up to these tough questions. They’re too busy shouting “bigot”, “racist” and “inadequate” at UKIP’s supporters. They still are. Too many right-of-centre commentators still want Cameron to declare war on UKIP voters and to deny that issues like immigration matter. They accuse UKIP voters of being hateful when, in reality, it is they who are hateful of UKIP voters and UKIP voters’ concerns.

7) Nick Clegg. If he hadn’t been bound by Coalition government David Cameron might have course corrected earlier. We would certainly have an EU referendum law on the statute book by now. Britain would be closer to net immigration of under 100,000 (although we’ll need to leave the EU or radically reform freedom of movement to deliver it). We would also have a Deputy PM who hadn’t broken his great promise to abolish tuition fees. One of the things powering UKIP is the sense that “LibLabCon” politicians can’t be trusted. Nick Clegg epitomises the political class for many Ukippers. Oh, and the Lib Dem leader’s debates with Mr Farage. I think we can all agree that Mr F bested Mr C and gave him extra momentum.

8) The Global Financial Crash. Britain is not the only country to have seen a right-wing populist movement emerge. America has had its Tea Party revolt. Parties much less savoury than UKIP did well in the latest European elections. The GFC squeezed the incomes of the poor and has produced resentment towards immigrants, bankers, welfare claimants and spending on foreign aid. Out of the Eurozone and with more flexible labour markets Britain has not suffered the chronic youth unemployment rates of much of the continent but high rents, personal indebtedness and squeezed disposable incomes have created the space for a protest movement.

9) Nigel Farage. Like Boris Johnson and Alex Salmond, UKIP’s leader possesses a personal warmth that lifts his party to a different level. People feel he gives them straight answers. His negative ratings climbed during the last month but despite his private education, City background and long stint as an MEP a lot of voters still see him as one of them. It’s quite a trick.

10) David Cameron. In describing David Cameron’s contribution I can only repeat what I wrote for The Times in May 2013:

“Spend most of your time as Tory leader ignoring the issue that matters most to your activist members: Europe. Launch your bid to be leader by promising to introduce a tax allowance for married couples and then, once you’ve won power, fail to deliver that pledge at four successive Budgets. Tell parents that they can set up any school they want as long as it’s not the one they most want, a grammar school. Stop Gordon Brown holding a honeymoon election in 2007 by promising to abolish inheritance tax but then put it up in office. Spend the general election campaign talking about an issue that no one understands — the Big Society — and don’t talk about immigration, an issue that three-quarters of voters do care about. Subsidise expensive renewable energies at a time when families are struggling to pay their electricity bills. Form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats even though 80 per cent of your members want you to lead a minority government. Promise not to reorganise the NHS, then reorganise it anyway. Oppose press regulation but then embrace it. Keep pledging to tackle European human rights laws but do nothing when Abu Qatada proves again and again that Britain is run by inventive lawyers rather than democratically-drafted laws. Insist that you want to reach out to northern and poorer parts of Britain but stuff your Downing Street operation with southern chums who attended the same elite private schools as you. And, just for good measure, insult people who normally vote for your party as clowns, fruitcakes and closet racists.”

David Cameron is in a much better place now to woo UKIP voters with his In/Out pledge, his tougher rhetoric on immigration and his concern to create a Toryism that is Sun and Mail-friendly rather than Guardian and Lib Dem-friendly. But which is the real Cameron? The one we have now or the one we had from 2005 until about eighteen months ago?

P.S. Have I missed any big factors off my list?"

Well I think Mr Montgomerie makes a lot of good points. His article is here at ConservativeHome

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Euro Elections

The above UKIP logo says it all really. They have dominated the main stream media, especially the dead tree press.

To see the wholesale attack on UKIP by the three mainstream parties along with the Times, Sun etc has been incredible. It may well do its job in denting the UKIP vote at the last minute. But postal voting may limit its extent as most people who will vote have already voted.

Surely the European elections should be more than just slaughtering UKIP. Yet I struggle to recall any big policy debates that have had resonance.

The debate has been very very simple and very brutal. Are you pro European or not? with the Tories offering a third way of a referendum in 2017, assuming they are in Government and after a renegotiation.

UKIP's exists to leave Europe, so on that it is clear. The Liberal Democrats, via Nick Clegg have been unashamedly pro EU. They say they would have a referendum on any big EU changes in the future as was set up by legislation in this Parliament, but otherwise love Europe.

I have no idea what Labours position is. Ed, not quite human, Miliband seems to want to be in Europe but if there are changes in future to have a referendum on them. Ie like the Lib Dems, except that quite a lot of Labour MP's seem to have a different view, including Ed Balls.

Will "cast iron" Dave's Conservatives prevail? Well he's promising the same as the last elections, namely a referendum in the future. I think people will be more sceptical this time but the Tories may do better than expected.

Labour should be cruising to victory, but aren't. I don't think any opposition party has won a general election without winning the Euro elections too. Ed Miliband just isn't a leader is he? Would you follow him over the top - no. In addition the Labour Party in conjunction with the other big parties have failed to talk about immigration sensibly. It's a tricky subject and they would prefer to avoid it. However it does resonate massively with voters and UKIP's point that the free movement of labour in the EU, while it was a fundamental principle, may have had its time is being heard particularly by those on low wages.

The other two big things that stand out are how little people care and how much the anti EU vote across Europe is likely to hugely rise.

The expected average turnout for the EU election is around 40%, and that's even with some countries compulsory voting. The EU institutions are going to have to adapt to survive otherwise even Angela Merkel thinks they have had it, along with some countries. Her favourite stats are these:-

European Union countries have 7% of the world's population, 25% of global output and 50% of its social spending.

It's only a part of the EU countries troubles but a big one. For the institutions they need to address the democratic element and stop with so many regulations - now over 150,000 pages of it from them, before nations states own stuff!

I know the Euro elections will not really engage most people but I will be fascinated to see the results. It may well be very close between Labour, Tories and UKIP. God help the Lib Dems as it won't be good for them.

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Conservative Party - in trouble with members

The more political discussion I read online the more it seems the Conservatives do have a big and growing problem. They are in danger of being smacked into third place in the Euro elections and then running the risk of UKIP genuinely destroying what tiny chance they have of general election success. 

Here is one disgruntled Tory whose letter was published today in the Telegraph.

"SIR – Your leading article does not mention the fundamental reason why many people like me, a former activist and Conservative voter in every election since 1979, will be voting Ukip for the first time in May’s European elections, and then in the general election. The Conservative Party, under the leadership of David Cameron, is no longer conservative.

It is now a party of uncontrolled, mass immigration into Britain. It is anti-family, believing as it does, in penalising those who wish, by choice, to stay at home and bring up their children. It believes in borrowing money at excessive levels in order to fund a deliberately ballooning overseas aid budget. It no longer advocates the effective security and defence of the realm as it continues to undermine the effectiveness of our Armed Forces. And it seems perfectly happy to build over our beautiful countryside, where once it represented a philosophical position that “conserved what is good”.

The party also refuses to tackle the disgraceful level of tax imposed upon those who save or invest as well as those who wish to pass on their assets to their children and grandchildren. And, on top of all these things, it no longer stands up for British interests in what has become an increasingly corrupt, undemocratic and self-serving European gravy train.

Link these things with Mr Cameron’s inexplicable defence of Maria Miller and his failure to expect higher standards from his ministers, and is it any wonder that people like me are deserting what was once their natural political home?"

William Rogers
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Once you've read the above you begin to understand the weekend polling;

ComRes CON 29% (-3), LAB 35% (=), LDEM 7% (-2), UKIP 20% (+4)

Opinium CON 30% (-2), LAB 36% (+3), LDEM 7% (-3), UKIP 18% (+3)

Ipsos MORI CON 31%( -1), LAB 37% (+2), LDEM 9% (-4), UKIP 15% (+4)

There may be trouble ahead.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Box 6 - IMF nuclear option for Euro

Guido Fawkes notes the following in a post on today

"The IMF is searching for a solution for debt laden European states to stop the €uro collapsing. Stop spending more than you tax is considered naive – how will the ruling elites get re-elected if they stop bribing the electorate with their own children’s money? Option 6 in the IMF’s discussion paper on the subject is brutally straight-forward. The final act of financial repression is to steal from everyone who has savings with a 10% wealth tax."
Best of all it is noted that people should be kept totally in the dark about it. The full horror of box 6 is set out below.
Box 6. a One-Off Capital Levy?
The sharp deterioration of the public finances in many countries has revived interest in a “capital levy”— a one-off tax on private wealth—as an exceptional measure to restore debt sustainability.The appeal is that such a tax, if it is implemented before avoidance
is possible and there is a belief that it will never be repeated, does not distort behavior (and may be seen by some as fair). There have been illustrious supporters, including Pigou, Ricardo, Schumpeter, and—until he changed his mind—Keynes. The conditions for success are strong, but also need to be weighed against the risks of the alternatives, which include repudiating public debt or inflating it away (these, in turn, are a particular form of wealth tax—on bondholders—that also falls on nonresidents).

There is a surprisingly large amount of experience to draw on, as such levies were widely adopted in Europe after World War I and in Germany and Japan after World War II. Reviewed in Eichengreen (1990), this experience suggests that more notable than any loss of credibility was a simple failure to achieve debt reduc- tion, largely because the delay in introduction gave space for extensive avoidance and capital flight—in turn spurring inflation.
The tax rates needed to bring down public debt to precrisis levels, moreover, are sizable: reducing debt ratios to end-2007 levels would require (for a sample of 15 euro area countries) a tax rate of about 10 percent on households with positive net wealth.2

As for instance in Bach (2012).
IMF staff calculation using the Eurosystem’s Household Finance and Consumption Survey (Household Finance and Consumption Network, 2013); unweighted average. 
The full IMF report is here -