Monthly Archives: November 2018

Soundbyte Sam, AKA Muffin Man?

We had some ribald comments after we reported on the appointment of Cllr Sam Currie as the Tory Association Press Officer. In recent days he apparently described the “Actual Prime Minister of Spain” as a “muffin”. Having seen the disrespectful tweet ourselves, we wonder if this insult by Cllr Currie sets the tone for his forthcoming Tory press releases. He revels in his being nicknamed “Soundbyte Sam” or “Tory Enigma” by Labour.

So we ask, politely, is there a similar derogatory term for an estate agent, as in one who shows a complete lack of understanding of customer needs also being a “muffin”? We can imagine the Labour ranks of councillors singing “Here comes the muffin man ” as Cllr Currie enters the WLBC chamber in the future.

Time To Renew European Democracy?

A leading Brexiter attended the Annual Awards dinner of the Political Studies Association , which, unknown to many, is “The organisation which brings together academics specialising in politics at British universities”. Our Brexiter reported that Dominic Grieve MP was Parliamentarian of the Year, while the International Recognition Award for 2018 was handed (in absentia) to none other than EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, who was particularly commended for his “cool, consistent and rational manner” adding “You couldn’t make it up”.

The objectives of the Association are “to promote the development of political studies and to encourage education and the advancement of learning in the art and science of government and in other branches of the political sciences”.

The PSA holds “Citizens’ Assemblies, as a “Time To Renew European Democracy. Conference Co-Founded By The Europe For Citizens Programme Of The European Union. Participants will explore the value of Citizens’ Assemblies and consider whether we are at a point where they should or can start becoming a permanent part of European democracies.

“The conference concludes an EACEA funded project – Citizens’ Assemblies for the Renewal of Europe – that has held Citizens’ Assemblies across the EU this year, and brings together leading experts from both academia and civil society”.

One UK Labour MP supporting these assemblies wrote “The referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union failed to enable the diversity of British opinion to be heard”.

No, it simply enabled a national collective democratic vote. We might suppose opinions like that will dominate the next Labour manifesto?

Watching A Country Make A Fool Of Itself

Imagining the remoaners having their anti-democratic second referendum because they didn’t get the right result first time made me think OK, let’s have an additional question this time “Are you in favour of independence for England?” which I found answered already!

The United Kingdom is not United. Devolution only highlighted further how England has been mistreated by the British authorities for decades. The UK being controlled by unelected bureaucrats in Brussel already undermined its status as a self governing democracy, however if the British authorities fail to implement the result of the EU Referendum, and both sides were very clear on what voting for leave actually meant, then its status as a Democracy is gone.

England needs to take back control from the incompetent and racist British Authorities who treat the people of England as 2nd class citizens in their own country. No country in the world has cultivated arrogance the way Britain has. But the sad truth is: The former global power can’t even find its way to the door without tripping over its feet.

A Commentary by Jan Fleischhauer. In his book “We Germans,” journalist Matthias Matussek writes about an evening spent at the German Embassy in London. The ambassador was hosting the writer Antonia S. Byatt  as his guest of honor and Matussek was on hand to make a toast to the author. In response, she surprised him by asking what he thought of the idea of a European constitution. Matussek answered by saying it’s probably not such a bad idea if the European community of nations agrees on a few foundational principles.

Lady Byatt then said “You know, we British don’t need a constitution. We are the oldest democracy in the world.” She paused briefly before continuing: “For young countries like you Germans, constitutions could very well be useful.” It would be almost impossible, writes Matussek, to overstate the haughtiness and contemptuousness that dripped from her voice. “Essentially, she was saying,” he writes, “you are barbarians, you have only recently put down your cudgels. You need the leash.”

Such are the British, and we love them for it. They are never short of an answer and constantly ready to put someone in their place. The problem, though, is that if you act like you are the center of the world, you should actually be the center, or something close to it. As things currently stand, though, the British soon won’t even be within shouting distance of the center of Europe.

The United Kingdom is currently demonstrating how a country can make a fool of itself before the eyes of the entire world. What was once the most powerful empire on earth is now a country that can’t even find its way to the door without tripping over its own feet. It has now been 28 months since the British voted to pull out of the European Union. Unfortunately, they haven’t taken a single step further since then.

Nothing But Sympathy. When Theresa May shows up in Brussels with yet another Brexit-related proposal, you can be sure that just one day later, it will no longer be worth the paper it is printed on. She either presents ideas that Brussels has long since rejected or her plans have already been chucked in the round file by her own party. Or Boris Johnson has torn her apart in his column in the Telegraph.

Until recently, I felt nothing but sympathy when I would see the British prime minister wander in front of the camera at EU summits, with her crooked smile and kooky offers. Lately, though, I have been catching myself thinking “Go with God. But go!”

No deal is better than a bad deal? If the British are convinced of that, then it must be true. A hard Brexit would also cost us a fair bit, there is no question. But it is nothing compared to what is awaiting the British.

There has been no shortage of articles about what the golden future will look like that London has promised British citizens. First, the trucks will back up all the way to Wales because the borders are back. Then the petrol stations will run out of petrol and there will be a scarcity of drugs in the hospitals. Meanwhile, once all the Polish plumbers have gone back home, there will nobody to call when the toilet clogs up.

They’ll be left in their water-damaged homes with no heating oil and no aspirin — and their Russian neighbours will be in extremely bad moods. After all, they have invested excessive amounts of money in the British real estate market and will be incensed when returns on those investments evaporate. We Germans know all too well how uncomfortable it can be to live with angry Russians. Drug shortages are nothing by comparison!

Connection to Reality. Almost everyone who has a say in Brexit belongs to the British establishment, meaning they went to an outrageously expensive private school and completed their studies at Cambridge or Oxford. In this regard, too, we have been enlightened. What in the name of God do they learn there? It certainly can’t be skills that would prepare them for the real world. Or would you trust a lawyer who regularly shows up to negotiations so completely unprepared that they have to be broken off again after just a few minutes?

You only have to listen in to any randomly chosen snippet of a Theresa May speech or interview and you will quickly realize that connection to reality is not a prerequisite for becoming prime minister. The disadvantage of being intelligent is that it hurts to watch someone act dumb. Simplemindedness protects against this pain, which is why in politics, it is often better to be dumb than intelligent.

We don’t want to be unfair. We have the British to thank for afternoon tea, Monty Python and the Beatles, which is more than many countries have managed to produce in their history. Plus, they have the queen, which, for someone like myself, who tends toward monarchism, is a reason to admire the UK. It is also worth noting that at a certain point in every country’s history, decay becomes unavoidable. Some do so slowly, others more rapidly.

The fact that the British are doing so rather quickly at the moment could have something to do with the fact that it is an island nation. I have never really understood how people could convince themselves that keeping entirely to themselves is advantageous. A look across the English Channel provides a telling example of what can go wrong.

But England can do much better to stop the decay, just try it.

Wally Shuffles His Tory Management Team

The local Tory party  management (for want of a better word), has been changed, probably to prepare for the upcoming May 2019 local elections. Out go Mr Pope and Mr Marsh, in come Mrs Doreen Stephenson (“Doreen is the current Deputy Chairman for Membership (2018)”), Mr Sam Currie (“Sam is now the Association Press Officer”), and Mr George Pratt (“Our current Deputy Chairman Political (2018)”). The ever faithful Edward McCarthy remains as the Association Social Media Co-ordinator.

Wally of course retains his Conservative Group Leadership on West Lancs Borough Council and is the Association Chairman (since March 2017, in better days!). People might wonder just how dynamic  the chosen Deputy Chairman for Membership could be.

Bickerstaffe Housing Questionnaire Results

Bickerstaffe Parish Council  has published its Housing Questionnaire Results.

The total number of responses—168/524

“82.5% of responses want to preserve the green belt”. “84.5% of responses say housing is not in short supply in this area”, and “84.5% of responses wish to maintain the open green spaces around the parish”.

Responses to individual questions by number & percentage:

1. Is housing in short supply in Bickerstaffe? YES—24 (14.3%) NO—142 (84.5%) Blank – 2

2. Are there any housing types particularly missing or in short supply?* YES—46 (27.4% ) NO—114 (67.9%) Blank – 8

3. Should any kind of housing be planned for individuals & families to move here? YES—31 (18.5%) NO—122 (72.6%) Blank -15

4. Where could/should any such new developments be located?* Summary of comments with most popular first, then in descending order of popularity – comments which were just “not in my backyard” have not been listed: Not on Green Belt land; not on any farmland; close to towns; infill around existing settlements in Bickerstaffe; extend Heyescroft and Stockley Crescent; BK 024, 026, 023, 011, 010, 018,021, 014, 013 use of gardens and small pockets of land; nowhere; infill on Liverpool Road and Church Road; along St Helens/Ormskirk Road and the Rainford bypass; brown field sites; M58 J3

5. The green belt has traditionally limited growth so that towns could not become urban sprawl. YES— 139 (82.7%) NO—11 (6.5%) Blank-18

6. Should the open space at the periphery of the parish be maintained to limit connection to surrounding conurbations/settlements? YES— 142 (84.5%) NO—15 (8.9%) Blank –11

7. Should any known flood areas be built upon? YES—4 (2.4%) NO- 155 (92.3%) Blank—9

8. Should there be more new, subsidised housing? YES—55 (32.7%) NO- 99 (58.9%) Blank–14

9. Should design standards be adopted to ensure any new housing projects are in keeping with the character of the area? YES—112 (66.1%) NO—23 (13.7%) Blank— 33

10a. Are there appropriate housing options for an aging population, allowing seniors to live in their preferred communities? * YES—83 (49%) NO -60 (35.7%) Blank— 25

10b. Are there appropriate housing options for families moving into the area potentially bringing children to the school and area, & regenerating the parish? YES – 85 (50.6% ) NO – 47 (28%) Blank—36

10c. Are there appropriate housing options for young people, setting up homes in the neighbourhood they wish to live in? YES – 84 (50%) NO—47 (28%) Blank -37

The latest news is that “Residents are up-in-arms over new WLBC local plan proposals…Residents came in their droves to the recent Local Plan Public Meeting organised by the Parish Council, to voice their concerns over the new WLBC proposals, aimed at lasting till 2050, with plans to build 3 garden villages in Bickerstaffe and Lathom South, and a Logistics Park. Residents are outraged at the loss of livelihoods envisaged by farmers, misuse of rural country-side and grade 1 arable food growing land, ensuing traffic congestion, & residents decry the plan. The results of the Housing Questionnaire conducted by BPC are overleaf, showing that residents: are against this proposed use of the green belt; question the timescale of the new proposals—being up to 2050; and challenge the need for the huge numbers of houses suggested.


The EU Has Led Us To A 20 Year Economic Meltdown

Any sort of trade deal with the EU is bound to result in economic meltdown. Here’s how and why. Economist John Poynton writes “This graph  shows our Balance of Payments Current Account – in effect our national profit and loss account, comprising mainly but not exclusively of trade – split into two separate components; our trade with the EU (the red line) and our trade with the Rest of the World (‘RotW’ – blue line).

“At the millennium our deficit with the EU was £4bn, whereas at by the time of the referendum it had plummeted to £109bn, whereas our trade with the Rest of the World has moved from a loss of £17bn to a profit last year of £20bn. I have downloaded the series from the ONS website, subtracting the EU from the total to get the RotW.

“No wonder we are now 21st in the list by standard of living. The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that Free Trade deals are fine between countries whose trade is in balance. If trade is not in balance then a Free Trade deal will only magnify that imbalance. This is just simple mathematics.

“Fortunately we have a strong Capital Account surplus, so there is plenty of foreign currency around to pay for our excess imports. But hang on a sec. That money is not ours. It can be withdrawn again at any moment by those who sent it here. We are robbing Peter to pay Paul, and if Peter cottons on he is likely to panic and withdraw his funds. Then we really would be buggered. But fortunately all seems well in the short term, which is all our politicians are concerned about.

“We have to take back our trade; to reduce and eliminate our deficit with the EU. That is the first domino in the line. No deal can achieve that. It would have to be a one-sided deal, and that is as likely as a free lunch. Only a No-Deal Brexit will give us the opportunity to change course and avoid the massive iceberg dead ahead. Even then it is only an opportunity, and several years of hard graft will be required forensically to identify all the non-tariff barriers that have been constructed against us and find ways of neutralising them. We shall have to give as good as we have received. This is about survival. We are in a trade war. It has been going on for twenty years and our dozy Treasury mandarins, away with the fairies in their Remainian dreamworld, have not lifted a finger to advise ministers to take action. Pacifists do not win wars.

“At least a No-Deal Brexit will give us an initial boost. By raising tariffs on both sides of the Channel, volumes will be reduced. This in turn will make a start in reducing the deficit, since everything will reduce in proportion. Furthermore more jobs will be created from import substitution than will be lost to export substitution. Labour Party please note!

“Last but not least there will be another £22bn for the Brexit Dividend from import tariff revenues. Funny how the BBC never mentions this! 60% of our trade is with the RotW on which EU tariffs are paid right now, amounting to approx. £15bn a year. 80% of that, £12bn, is paid across to Brussels, but after a No-Deal Brexit it will stay in London. At no inflationary cost whatsoever! The remaining 40% with the EU will attract the same tariffs, assuming we put in place a mirror image of the EU tariffs, giving us a further £10bn. Inflationary? Well not very. Average tariffs are just under 5%, and our total foreign trade is about a third of our economy, so multiplied out that gives inflation of 0.667% – on a once off basis. Its peanuts.

“We do not want or need anything from the EU. So why are we negotiating at all? We must take back control of our trade. Only a no-deal Brexit can achieve that”.

A Fair Chunk Of Mistrust In Politicians

Nathan Gill  was elected as MEP for Wales in 2014 and between 2016 and 2017 represented North Wales in the National Assembly for Wales. He writes “Just as in Dickens’ famous A Tale of Two Cities, we can start this tale with “It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times” (not to mention the worst deal in history).

“Our country has been deliberately divided by the establishment, big business and the lily-livered politicians who do not understand the Pandora’s box they are opening.

“In 1997, Tony Blair’s victorious Labour Government rushed in devolution throughout the United Kingdom. This was a second referendum, after Scotland and Wales voted against it in the 1979 referendums. Wales voted overwhelmingly against devolution in 1979, while the minimum turnout threshold was not reached in Scotland.

“In 1997, the Scots voted significantly for devolution while in Wales, the people were not as convinced. It was a close-run contest, with the final declaration of Carmarthenshire giving victory to the devolutionists, by a nail-biting 6,721 votes. The final score, for devolution 50.3% and against devolution 49.7%. Of the 22 Welsh Council Areas, 11 voted for devolution and 11 voted against.

“There was no sulking, no calls for a second referendum, no stalling. We accepted the voice of the people (albeit on just a 50.22% turnout) and stood aside to allow the Government and the bureaucrats to institute the Welsh Assembly, the biggest political change to happen in Wales in over 800 years.

“Fast forward to 2016 and on a staggering 71.7% turnout, 17 Welsh Council Areas voted to Leave the European Union, with only 5 voting to Remain in the European Union. 82,225 majority to leave.

“The final score: 52.5% voted to Leave and 47.5% to Remain in the European Union. Wales, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, had voted decisively to leave.

“However, the losers’ attitude to Brexit has been nothing short of disgraceful. On the night, as the results were coming in, Labour’s Health Minister Vaughan Gething said there was a “fair chunk of distrust in politicians” as the reason for Wales voting Leave. So, what are he and the rest of the Cardiff establishment doing to rebuild that distrust?

“They immediately started dragging their feet, claiming it was too close a result to honour. Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, started demanding we stay in the Single Market and Customs Union, despite the fact his own constituency of Bridgend voted to Leave.

“The media, of course, did their bit, using emotive words like “cliff edge” and “hard Brexit” – and of course labelled those who simply wanted a real Brexit as extremists and on the fringes of their parties. For every one Brexiteer seen on TV or heard on radio, there were a handful of Remainers to counter their arguments.

“Anglesey, where I live, voted to Leave and I was ecstatic. It was one of the highlights of results night. I knew the importance of Wales voting to Leave. I worked unceasingly alongside a band of dedicated men and women, not just in the run-up to the vote, but for over a decade prior to it. We knew that if only England (the old enemy) voted to Leave and dragged the other UK nations out of the EU, it would never work. It was crucial that at least one more UK nation voted to Leave, as it took the fire out of the nationalists’ argument.

“The fact that we got a better result in Wales than in England was the cherry on the top of a very big cake. So where do we go from here? The years of work, the foundations we laid and the spark that we lit are still there, burning bright. The people are all the more determined to get their Brexit. The politicians are playing with fire, as they ignore and dismiss the voice of the Welsh people. I am amazed when I speak to complete strangers how adamant they are about the reasons why they voted to Leave and what they now expect from their elected servants.

“Our democracy is too important and too sacred to be trampled on by cowards who lack any faith in our country, in our people and who lack vision. After all, “where there is no vision, the people perish”.

“We owe it to our fellow countrymen to spread our vision with courage and with the conviction that all will be well in the end. It always is!”

More Council Closed Doors

On 23 November 2018 the WhatDoTheyKnow facility was used to ask WLBC “Dear West Lancashire District Council, Good morning, I am trying to find information on the Local Plan Cabinet Working Group, I can find the members but there are no attendance statistics or agendas listed. Do I have to go through the freedom of information act to receive this information, many thanks, Pam Sharman. Yours faithfully, Pamela Sharman”.

WLBC website states “No Local Plan Cabinet Working Group meetings are available for browsing; No statistics are available for this committee in the period 04/06/2018 to 27/11/2018; No statistics are available for this committee in the period 10/12/2017 to 04/06/2018; No statistics are available for this committee in the period 17/06/2017 to 10/12/2017″. 

WLBC response is “This message is to acknowledge receipt of your communication. If your request is a valid request for information under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 it will be answered promptly and within 20 working days”. Good luck with that!

Council Closed Doors Decisions?

OWLs  claim the West Lancashire Borough Council appears so ashamed of its new service standards for street cleansing and grass cutting that the decision to approve it was taken behind closed doors. Only Labour and Conservative councillors have been involved in formal discussions, but Our West Lancashire councillors inform us that the new standards mean some fly tips will take three times as long to be cleared and street cleansing frequencies are being reduced, while a litter bin review is underway to “de-clutter the streets”. 

Before these approved plans take effect, Our West Lancashire  will be bringing this information out into the public domain and making proposals to ensure that West Lancashire is as green and clean as possible.

The LCC is also changing street lighting. OWLs suggest there is a proposal to switch off some street lights between midnight and 5am which is alarming given the shortage of police and will save a relative pittance – better to reduce benefits to county councillors.

Macron in Charge Of The British Economy?

While Paris was burning last week  and Macron was decried, he was giving more priority to the UK economy and demanding fishing “rights” than to the French situation.

UK business groups say that leaving the single market and the customs’ union will make matters even worse, but imagine the UK on the outside today, weighing up the pros and cons of joining a club tomorrow where the trading rules amplified our weaknesses and nullified our strengths. Would we really be gagging to join?

With a market share of 5.8%, France is one of the United Kingdom’s leading trading partners. According to French customs, French exports of goods to the United Kingdom stood at €31.8 billion in 2016 (fifth-largest customer), as against €23.2 million for British exports to France (seventh-largest supplier). In 2016, the United Kingdom thus accounted for France’s largest trade surplus for trade in goods (€11.8 billion). 

In June 1970 three days before the general election, official figures showed that Britain’s trade had taken a marked turn for the worse. Government claims that the economy was healthy took a knock.

That was a time when the size of Britain’s trade gap was front page stuff. Headlines screamed about the UK being back in the red. The TV news bulletins were full of it. Harold Wilson is supposed to have blamed it for his unexpected defeat at the hands of Edward Heath the following Thursday. All this for a trade deficit of just £31m, distorted by the arrival in Britain of a couple of Boeing’s new jumbo jets.

Times have changed and Britain’s performance has grown steadily worse over the subsequent decades. In 1970 as a whole, the trade deficit averaged 0.2% of GDP, a performance that today would be greeted with jubilation rather than despair. Not since the early 1980s has the UK run a surplus on goods, and at the last count the annual deficit was running at £135bn. The deficit in manufactured products alone stood at £95bn.

Brexit has moved trade up the political agenda. Forty-three per cent of the UK’s exports in 2016 went to other EU countries, and business groups are keen to ensure that post-departure impediments to trade are kept to a minimum.

Britain’s trade performance with the rest of the EU has been woeful. According to data produced by the House of Commons library, it has run a trade deficit in goods and services combined in every year since 1999. What’s more, the deficit is getting bigger over time, doubling from £41bn to £82bn between 2012 and 2016.

The UK’s trading performance with the rest of the world has been better. Exports and imports were broadly in balance from 1999 to 2011 but since 2012 there has been a fivefold increase in the surplus from £8bn to £39bn.

The economist Christopher Smallwood has been looking at what has been happening to the UK’s manufacturing trade deficit since 2005. He finds that almost all sectors are running a bigger deficit. The deficit with Germany has increased by 5% a year, with France by 7% a year and with the rest of the EU by 11% a year. Smallwood says the UK’s trade performance has deteriorated because the single market and the customs union are designed to suit other countries, Germany in particular, but not Britain.

“It is not surprising that our trade deficit with the EU continues to grow, because the single market and customs union does not represent a free trade area. It is a free trade area only in goods. Manufactured goods represent Germany’s comparative advantage, whereas ours is in services. We have entered into a lop-sided arrangement under which all impediments to trade have been removed from areas where our trading partners are strong but not from areas where we are strong. So obviously our overall trade deficit with them has gone on rising, and will continue to do so”.

Equally, it is hard to deny that other countries are doing rather better out of the current trading arrangements. Britain’s trade deficit for goods and services combined with the EU is 4% of GDP and rising. More than two-thirds of the deficit in goods is with the EU. The surplus in services is around a sixth of the deficit in goods.

General UK government gross debt was £1,763.8 billion at the end of the financial year ending March 2018, equivalent to 85.8% of gross domestic product (GDP), 25.8 percentage points above the reference value of 60% set out in the Protocol on the Excessive Deficit Procedure. On this basis we should be kicked out of the EU instead of pleading on our knees for an agreement to leave!