Daily Debrief April 14th

Cameron’s tax woes are helping the Brexit campaign

The Times headlines “Voters turn away from EU as trust in Cameron slides”.  Cameron’s approval rating has dropped to 21%, below Jeremy Corbyn’s 28%.  The Times argues that declining trust in the Prime Minister is reducing support for Remain, and boosting Brexit.  A YouGov poll for the Times has Leave and Remain neck-and-neck on 39% each.  The Times suggests that the Referendum result now depends on Mr. Corbyn, who is about to give a pro-EU speech.  But he has been equivocal over the issue, and will convince few.

Vote Leave win official designation

The Electoral Commission has awarded Vote Leave, the Westminster-based group, the coveted official designation as the Leave Campaign, who will be entitled to spend up to £7 million on their campaign (rather less that the tax-payers’ £9 million that Cameron spent on his pro-EU propaganda leaflet).

The papers take widely differing views on the future of the Leave Campaign.  The FT headlines “Vote Leave’s designation spurs feuding in the Brexit Camp”, while the Express reports “Eurosceptic campaigners pledge to work together in the battle to free Britain from Brussels rule”, under the heart-warming headline “Now the Battle for Britain Begins: Crusade to leave EU takes huge leap forward”.  The paper quotes Nigel Farage congratulating Vote Leave, and insisting that all eurosceptics must work together for the goal of an independent UK.

Leave.EU to seek judicial review?  There are reports that the other campaign group seeking the official designation, Leave.EU (which had the support of UKIP) will seek a judicial review of the Electoral Commission’s decision. This could mean delaying the referendum from June, perhaps to October.  I quite understand their position – they had a very strong case – but I hope they will not pursue the legal route.  They would be seen by the voters as bad losers, and I believe that any delay in the referendum timing would be very badly received by the public, and could hand the outcome to the Remain side.

Outrage at massive UK foreign aid spending

The issue of UK foreign aid has hit the headlines again with reports that we contribute one seventh of all foreign aid globally, and are by far the top spender in per capita terms.  The Mail reports that the average UK citizen pays £188 a year in foreign aid.  And remember, this is all borrowed money – to be repaid one day by our children and grandchildren. The Sun leads on the same story under the headline “WAD A WASTE”.   It is time to get foreign aid under control.  Yes, we should respond in a humanitarian way to emergencies and crises, but we should not allow poor countries to subside into dependency.  And we should remember that the best way to help poor countries is trade, not aid.  We could do far more good by dismantling the EU’s protectionist barriers than we do with foreign aid or “fair trade” projects.

“Alarming” build-up of migrants in Libya

Reuters reports that the EU is worried by an alarming increase in migrant numbers in Libya, awaiting the opportunity to make the crossing to Italy.  With the Balkan route closed (or at least made less easy), it is hardly surprising that the Libya/Italy route is becoming more popular.

4000 migrants rescued this week: As the weather improves, more and more migrants are attempting the Mediterranean crossing from Libya.  The BBC reports 4000 migrants rescued on Monday and Tuesday of this week alone, and taken to Italy.  We are doing the traffickers’ job for them.  Why on earth do we not return them to Libya?

Merkel & Erdogan in a spat over free speech

A curious but instructive row has erupted between Germany and Turkey, and in particular between Angela Merkel and President Erdogan.  A German comedian named Böhmermann has created an abusive and satirical song about President Erdogan.  The song is egregiously offensive to Erdogan, and he is entitled to be offended.  I cannot possibly write down what the song says (in a Daily Debrief intended for family reading around the fireside), but it is seriously bad.  And it seems also to have gone viral, and been widely watched.

Erdogan called in the German Ambassador and demanded the song be removed from the internet, and the comedian prosecuted.  There are some reports suggesting he may indeed be prosecuted.

Merkel has insisted on the value of free speech . But she has put herself in a dangerous position vis-à-vis Turkey.  She needs Turkish cooperation to give her improbable migrant deportation plan any chance of success, and she is fearful of offending Erdogan.

The spat has its funny side, but it illustrates the cultural divide between Turkey and “European values”, and illustrates why Turkey may not be a suitable candidate for EU accession.  Erdogan has shut down his own newspapers and now demands restrictions on the press in the EU.  But free speech must include freedom to offend.  If we restrict free speech on the basis that it must offend no one, there is little we can say at all.

It would be a good thing if Mr. Böhmermann could show a little more restraint and decency.  But his right to free speech must be protected.  There is a clear parallel here with recent problems over anti-Muslim cartoons.

 The Cabinet Minister and the Call Girl

The tangled tale of Whittingdale is evolving as we watch it, with the additional titillating detail that the lady in the case was a “Dominatrix” in her professional work.

It appears that four national newspapers knew of the story for some months, but chose not to run it, on the basis that it was a private matter.  The campaign group “Hacked Off” has been accused of hypocrisy after it castigated those papers for not publishing a story which it regarded as “of public interest”.  Apparently Hacked Off campaigns for privacy for celebrities, but against privacy for Cabinet Ministers.

Were the papers intimidated by that fact that John Whittingdale, as Culture Secretary, has a responsibility for the Press?  And why did the BBC (which presumably also knew for some time) decide that now was the time to run with the story and give it what many regard as undue prominence?  The obvious suspicion is that this is part of the increasingly heated debate over the Licence Fee between the BBC and the Culture Secretary.  The Telegraph reports an accusation to this effect from an unnamed Cabinet Minister (presumably not Mr. Whittingdale).

It might perhaps be paranoid to suggest that the pro-Brussels BBC had saved up the story until the referendum campaign, hoping to damage a prominent pro-Brexit Cabinet Minister (though as a wise man once said, “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you”).

The Mirror reports that Mr. Whittingdale is facing a “sleaze probe” after accusations that he took the lady to Amsterdam and failed to record the visit, while the Daily Star runs the headline “YES, YES, YES MINISTER”.

Jeremy Corbyn missed another pension from his tax return

Corbyn looked a little foolish after his attacks on Cameron for tax avoidance, when he published his own tax return and it emerged he had omitted to mention his State Pension, or his local government pension.  Now it seems he also missed a third one.

Challenging preconceptions: Electric cars mean more emissions than petrol

Driven by EU emissions targets, our government is offering generous subsidies to purchasers of electric vehicles.  You could argue that anyone prepared to put up with “range anxiety”, and the tedium of plugging in for extended recharge periods, maybe deserves a little help.  But now a bomb-shell report from Hong Kong shows that electric cars can actually produce more CO2 emissions than equivalent petrol cars (+20%), if the whole life-cycle is taken into account.  Bad news for Elon Musk of Tesla.  Admittedly this is based on Hong Kong’s fairly high dependence on fossil fuel electricity generation, but it reminds us that we shouldn’t simply assume that electric cars are the silver bullet for CO2 emissions.

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22 Responses to Daily Debrief April 14th

  1. Ex-expat Colin says:

    “Stop spending a fixed 0.7 per cent slice of our national wealth on Foreign Aid” petition response arrived yesterday. I won’t post it here. I suspect Merc and BMW will be prime beneficiaries via multi paths. HoC junket to come with maximum weeping I expect. Of course its in law (Act)…like ummmm, the BBC?

    Strategy Doc (LOLz)

    Click to access ODA_strategy_final_web_0905.pdf

    Anyway the unelected Bono has provided advice from his yacht somewhere.

    I suppose the loon Ringo Starr won’t mind weirdly dressed trannies appearing in a public toilet anywhere…plus Springsteen. N. Carolina saw right through it I am pleased to say…literally. Will need to carry pitchfork continually I think!

    • Harry Royle says:

      I am all for freedom of speech, but I have no idea what your post means. Merc and BMW beneficiaries of Foreign Aid? Ringo Starr and weirdly dressed trannies? Carrying pitchforks continuously? What DO you mean, Colin?

  2. What seems to have been lost in the offshore tax debate is that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell paid a lot less tax than the PM and Chancellor. Worse than this, much of David Cameron’s and George Osborne’s tax came from private sources whereas the labour duo’s tax was merely taken from money we, the taxpayer had given them in the first place (just like the eu).

  3. rushisright says:

    “It would be a good thing if Mr. Böhmermann could show a little more restraint and decency. ”

    I can’t agree with you there Mr Helmer. The inflated balloon of the despot Erdogan’s ego need pricking. And if the price of that is a little vulgarity from the likes of Herr Böhmermann then that’s perfectly ok with me.

  4. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Noticed something today for the very first time. CPI turned my private company pension to -0.1%. I did not quite expect the RPI shift to impact like that.

    The company is a very high tech one called QinetiQ (formerly DERA) filched from the taxpayer by the Carlyle Group and others. Hope you’re enjoying Spain Mr Major!

    Always nibbling away at us?

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      What I’m saying here is ….is it that QinetiQ, that under various MoD names since before the war is failing? Malvern where I was is the birthplace of LCD that was freely given to Japan and is originally the Royal Radar Establishment (RRE and RSRE).

      I am spitting bullets at the moment and a terse letter is heading their way very shortly. I don’t think they are failing although I have witnessed a few attempts by the weak management particularly in the USA.

      Steel is one thing but a major part of our wide tech research seems to be being abused. Its a major employer of the better Uni’s for one.

  5. MIKE Maunder says:

    Jeremy Corbyn seems to have his Common Market and his European Union rather mixed up by his speech, on Labour backing the stay-in side.
    If we had The Common Market, it is pretty well certain that a referendum would not have been given, or required. We would only have seen the E.U. flag on letter heads and invoices, and the anthem would have remained as part of the ninth symphony, and Ted Heath’s, ” It’s only a Trade arrangement,” would have been true.
    However leaving La La Land, and dealing with reality, we find ourselves slowly taken into this Federal Europe, where Government comes from Brussels, and Westminster needs to play to the rules, and has to check with the E.U. first, before any change is made. What I still don’t get, is why M.Ps are for this ? In time Westminster will be a very big Parish Council, and this nation will have been added to The Empire of Europe.
    Corbyn seems to be in favour of staying in, but changing the E.U. He does not say how that would happen, as all the member states have to agree to the changes, and as Cameron will, or has found out, it’s fine to chat and dream of a reformed E.U. but it’s another thing entirely to reap benefit of reform. The first time you try it, a Treaty is produced. One or a few of the members object, and your back to square one
    Why would we accept rule from an appointed group of Europeans, filtered through another very large body of M.E.Ps in a Parliament, that is there to make a pretence of democracy, when we have our own democracy in Westminster, that we, the people elect every five years ? ( Change to electoral system is required, but that’s another matter.).
    Both Corbyn and myself would like The Common Market, but to use this referendum to stay in and try to make changes, is where I part company with him. France and Germany are just two members that want to keep it this Federal way, and if we stay in with them, we are just holding them up, or doing what we don’t want to do. Let us wish them well, and continue to trade with them, but not in Political Union. JUST VOTE OUT TO MAKE OUR OWN FUTURE !

  6. It is reassuring to see knowledgeable and intelligent people expressing what I consider to be logical, common sense opinions about leaving the EU. However the general population will vote and they do not understand just how crucial that vote will be, we can thank Cameron, the BBC, Sky and the press in general for that and we have no way to change or fight it.

  7. MIKE Maunder says:

    I’m not sure if it is correct to use the alternate words of the Red Flag for Jeremy Corbyn. – You know the words. – ” The working class can kiss my ass, I’v got the leaders job at last.” He has been against the E.U. for so many years, but now asks Labour supporters to vote for Stay-In. So it seems he is happy to follow The Supreme Leader, Cameron ! So much for his beliefs and principals ! – Again, I’m not sure. Personally I think he has taken on a job that is way too big for him, and he’s knocked off his pivot, with no nuclear weapons, but we will send our submarines out empty !
    So it seems that we have a disingenuous lie maker from one side, and a dotty old guy from the other side, and they both want a centre ground hold on British politics ! As I have been Shop Steward and a Managing Director at times in my working life, I am what is called, a floating voter, and unless something dramatic happens, in 2020 it’s UKIP for me and nuts to the rest. But first we must VOTE OUT OF THE E.U., then deal with Westminster.

  8. Jane Davies says:

    Update on the freepost address to send your glossy booklet to…..
    The Conservative Party, Freepost RTHS-TLXL-XKXK,4 Matthew Street, LONDON SW1H 9HQ.
    If you send them there the party has to pay the postage out of funds if you send then to Downing Street the taxpayers pick up the tab

  9. Shieldsman says:

    My posts do not appear to be getting through.

  10. Shieldsman says:

    The Daily Telegraph editorial used the phrase “Establishment stitch-up”.
    However, the rival campaign umbrella group, Grassroots Out (GO), also had a strong case for designation. It has Ukip on its ticket, a party that won the European parliamentary contest just two years ago and secured 13 per cent of the vote at last year’s general election.

    Moreover, the reach of GO is arguably greater since it connects with political groups beyond the orbit of the mainstream parties. It is possible to see why the people running GO regard the designation of their rival to be an “Establishment stitch-up”.

    But our difficulty lies in the word “rival”. These two outfits are supposed to be on the same side.
    Now whose fault is that DT editor, other than Elliot and Cummings.

  11. John S Churchill Jnr says:

    There were ‘rivals’ for designation but not in ‘outcome’. I do hope Aaron Banks doesn’t go down the legal avenue, that only strikes me as being sour grapes! And who granted him a leadership role in the campaign anyway (only his money!)? I was for GO but I’m happy to support Giesella Stuart’s leadership! There is work to be done but the “printed in Germany by a resurrected Goebels” pamphlet has softened up the public towards our viewpoint. 34p (x 27m) well spent!

  12. Tony says:

    From the BBC :
    As much as half the adult population may share a political world view researchers describe as “authoritarian populist”.’
    They favour rolling back the state and are negative about immigration, human rights and the EU, a study claims.’

    So wanting a smaller state is an authoritarian notion and here was I thinking it was libertarian (the opposite). It seems that supporting (a largely libertarian) party like UKIP is also authoritarian as is wanting to restore democracy by leaving the EU.

    In other news, black is white, freedom is slavery and tractor production is up.

  13. Pingback: Daily Debrief May 12th | Roger Helmer MEP

  14. Pingback: Cameron fears Farage |

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