Ed Miliband is to promise to put powerful “city-region” government at the heart of a Labour attempt to rebalance growth in the UK, claiming his plan represents “the biggest economic devolution of power to England’s great towns and cities in a hundred years”.
He will say he is willing to hand over £4bn a year of Whitehall expenditure to city and county regions that cross current local government boundaries. The sum is double that proposed by the government.
He will make the commitment in a speech in Birmingham when he reveals the interim report of a review being drawn up by former Labour cabinet minister Lord Adonis.
Miliband will say: “The country that once built its prosperity on the great towns and cities, like Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff has become a country which builds its prosperity far too much on one city: London.”
The need for a level of government set at city-region level has been underlined by the fact that 50% of urban workers live and work in different local authority areas. There are inadequate incentives for local authorities to work in partnership, the Adonis review has found.
Yes, yes, yes. This is just that thing about splitting England up into EU approved regions again. Except this time there’ll be no referendum, as Prescott had in the NE, to allow the people to object. Same damn policy with the same end in mind. If we break up England as a political entity then we can have that regional government and the EU government and the national bit in the middle doesn’t have much to do.
And guess where all the important decisions are going to get made in such a system? Quite, the one that we can’t vote out.
George Osborne’s latest budget could spell an end to 99p song downloads by closing a tax loophole that meant consumers were paying VAT at very low foreign rates on online purchases of books, music and apps.
The chancellor will bring in new laws making sure that internet downloads are taxed in the country where they are purchased, meaning web firms such as Amazon and Apple will have to charge the UK’s 20% rate of VAT. At the moment they are allowed to sell digital downloads through countries such as Luxembourg, where the tax rate is as low as 3%.
Given that intra-EU VAT rules are a matter of EU law I’m not certain that Osborne has the power to decide this unilaterally.
However, rolling around at the back of my mind is the thought that the EU had already decided to change this. Anyone know?
Let me set out some of the key ones. Powers flowing away from Brussels, not always to it. National parliaments able to work together to block unwanted European legislation. Businesses liberated from red tape and benefiting from the strength of the EU’s own market – the biggest and wealthiest on the planet – to open up greater free trade with North America and Asia. Our police forces and justice systems able to protect British citizens, unencumbered by unnecessary interference from the European institutions, including the ECHR.
It’s a basic starting point for the EU that powers once granted to it are never devolved back. But there’s a greater error there too. The ECHR isn’t an EU institution so what the hell has renegotiating our relationship with the EU got to do with the ECHR?
The ECJ, yes, but the ECHR?
Packets of ten cigarettes will be banned in the UK by 2016 after the European Parliament voted in favour of tough new anti-smoking rules governing the tobacco market.
The raft of new measures also include the introduction of mandatory picture and text health warnings covering about two-thirds of cigarette packs in an effort to reduce the number of smokers by 2.4 million.
There will also be a ban on flavoured cigarettes such as menthol varieties.
And just to show that these people really are drowning in their own syphilitic puss there’s this:
a maximum nicotine-concentration level for e-cigarettes.
Limitations on the most effective known method of people stopping smoking?
And, may I ask, what the hell has this got to do with stopping Germany from invading France again?
The mass surveillance carried out by the US National Security Agency means that governance of the internet has to be made more international and less dominated by America, the European Union’s executive has declared.
Setting out proposals on how the world wide web should function and be regulated, the European commission called for a shift away from the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), which is subject to US law, is contracted by the US administration and is empowered to supervise how digital traffic operates.
“Recent revelations of large-scale surveillance have called into question the stewardship of the US when it comes to internet governance,” said the commission.
“Given the US-centric model of internet governance currently in place, it is necessary to broker a smooth transition to a more global model while at the same time protecting the underlying values of open multi-stakeholder governance …
This roughly translates into:
“Take some power off the bastard Americans and give it to us.“
The average Dutch household could be better off by over £8,000 a year and national income will grow by over £1 trillion if the Netherlands leaves the euro and the EU, according to a new study.
People have made the same finding about the UK as well. For it’s obvious that if you free yourself from a stultifying bureaucracy and become a classically liberal free trading nation then the economy will grow.
The readership of this blog does skew to those who have good experience of the rest of the world so most of us already know this. Britain is a remarkably uncorrupt place:
Less than one per cent of Britons, five people out of the 1,115 surveyed by the commission, reported that they had been asked for a bribe, the “best result in Europe”.
In contrast between six to 29 per cent of people in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece said they had been expected to pay a bribe.
I’ve said it before and entirely happy to point it out again: I’ve paid bribes before now. Hefty ones too. On the basis that at the time that’s just how you did it in foreign.
I’ve also never even thought about paying or asking for a bribe in the UK. I wouldn’t even know how to raise the subject itself. It’s just not one of the things that you think about as a viable tactic.
This doesn’t stop the EU having a go though:
Britain was among countries criticised for failing to clean up and regulate the financing of political parties, a problem that the commission defined as a major factor in corruption.
In non-binding recommendations, the UK was asked to “cap donations to political parties, impose limits on electoral campaign spending and ensure proactive monitoring and prosecution of potential violations”.
So we’re the least, or near the least, corrupt place on the planet so we should bring in the rules that exist in more corrupt places so as to….what, increase the opportunities for corruption?
And all because the English would like to rule themselves:
The rise of Eurosceptic groups such as the UK Independence Party hampers the cooperation that has kept the continent at peace for decades, Germany’s foreign minister said.
Which is a fairly odd thing for anyone to state really.
Whether the Wermacht makes a move on Paris or not is a decision that would be made by those who run the Wermacht. You know, German politicians? Why they would want to invade France again is unclear, and why the trigger for their doing so should be that we English tell the corpulent fuckers in Brussels to bugger off is quite beyond me.
Beyond any possible reason in fact.
The European Union is secretly developing a “remote stopping” device to be fitted to all cars that would allow the police to disable vehicles at the flick of a switch from a control room.
Confidential documents from a committee of senior EU police officers, who hold their meetings in secret, have set out a plan entitled “remote stopping vehicles” as part of wider law enforcement surveillance and tracking measures.
“The project will work on a technological solution that can be a ‘build in standard’ for all cars that enter the European market,” said a restricted document.
The devices, which could be in all new cars by the end of the decade, would be activated by a police officer working from a computer screen in a central headquarters.
Once enabled the engine of a car used by a fugitive or other suspect would stop, the supply of fuel would be cut and the ignition switched off.
I agree that I’m not the world’s greatest car enthusiast but what? As far as I can recollect turning off the ignition also locks the steering on a car. And they want to do that to a car doing 120 mph through a suburban street as it attempts to escape from the cops?
Perhaps we should send the people who thought this up out onto the motorway and then we’ll cut their engines?
To say nothing of the civil liberties implications here. No, they’re mad. Hang them all.
British firms who do not export to the EU should be freed from the most burdensome Brussels regulations, hundreds of business leaders will say today.
Business for Britain, a Eurosceptic campaign group representing 800 business leaders, will propose that only the five per cent of UK companies who trade with the Continent should be subject to the rules of the single market.
For the aim and point of he single market is that it is, err, a single market.
Meaning that foreign firms trading here should face the same rules…..and thus all firms trading here must face those same rules otherwise it ain’t a single market, is it?
As to the larger picture the flaw in the single market idea is that us free marketeers only won the first part of the argument. That it should indeed be such a single market. The part we lost was that then everyone decided that it should be the continental style regulated by bureaucrats style market. Not a free one.
It’s from that that we suffer. Not at all that it’s a single market, but from the fact that it’s the wrong type of market. A French one, not an Anglo Saxon one.
A campaign for the European Union to become a “United States of Europe” will be the “best weapon against the Eurosceptics”, one of Brussels’ most senior officials has said.
Viviane Reding, vice president of the European Commission and the longest serving Brussels commissioner, has called for “a true political union” to be put on the agenda for EU elections this spring.
“We need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers – the European Parliament and a “Senate” of Member States,” she said.
Mrs Reding’s vision, which is shared by many in the European institutions, would transform the EU into superstate relegating national governments and parliaments to a minor political role equivalent to that played by local councils in Britain.
Under her plan, the commission would have supremacy over governments and MEPs in the European Parliament would supersede the sovereignty of MPs in the House of Commons.
You see, the people of Europe have been asked many times whether they’d like to be ruled in such a manner. Napoleon asked the question, Hitler did, various Bourbons and Hapsburgs have asked over the centuries too. And the general response from the citizenry has always been “No, Bugger Off”.
The French don’t want to be ruled by German bureaucrats, the English do not want to be ruled by either French or German bureaucrats. It’s just not what anyone actually wants.
Except the bureaucrats of course.
Cameron can’t even get the bill passed. What hopes he’ll win the election then have the referendum?
The Conservative Party’s bill committing Britain to a referendum on European Union membership is “unlikely” to become law because of delays in the House of Lords, peers have warned.
The entire offering of Cameron and his ilk is managerial competence. And without that they’ve not that much to offer, have they?
Unfortunately, today joint liability contracts that can enhance efficiency are difficult to implement in the Eurozone countries because of restrictions imposed by the laws and treaties that bind the EU, and in particular, the Treaty of Lisbon. Hence, the need for amending the Treaty of Lisbon, so that it is possible, under certain conditions, for one nation to stand guarantee for another nation’s borrowings.
That problem being that when it becomes possible it will become compulsory.
Non-EU citizens will be able to work in Britain after Bulgarian restrictions lifted.
Hundreds of thousands of people from poor countries outside the European Union will be free to find jobs in Britain as a result of restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians being lifted on New Year’s Day.
Romania and Bulgaria, whose citizens will now have the right to work freely in the UK, are offering passports to people in non-EU countries including Moldova and Macedonia.
Historic ties also mean that some Serbs, Ukrainians and Turks are eligible to claim passports that would allow them to work anywhere in the EU.
People who used not to be EU citizens but who are now EU citizens will be able to work in the UK.
And in the case of places like Moldova it’s probably the best damn thing that could happen to the place.
European Union officials take three times more sick days off work than an average British worker in the private sector, research by The Telegraph suggests.
According to official figures, European Commission officials took an average of 14.6 days off sick last year, with one in seven staff absent for more than 20 days.
By contrast, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry found that British staff working in the private sector took around five sick days a year.
European officials even outstripped Britain’s civil servants and public sector staff, who took half as many days off work.
The stresses and strains of actually running the EU are quite obviously too much. We cannot allow people, good, honest even if continental, folk to be subjected to such horrifying conditions.
We’ll just have to close the whole thing down I’m afraid.
But if you take money from the EU then you’re not…..
The European Union is paying green campaign groups millions of pounds effectively to lobby itself.
Activists are being given the grants from a European Commission environmental fund, which enables a network of green groups to influence and promote EU policy.
The practice has been branded a “cash carousel” by critics, who have called for the special fund — called Life+ — to be scrapped.
In total, the fund has handed out more than £90 million to green groups in the past 15 years, according to the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which has analysed its spending.
Apparently so anyway.
Dozens of Conservative MPs are urging David Cameron to give Parliament a veto over all EU laws, in an attempt to take back control of Britain’s borders.
Up to 80 backbenchers are expected to sign a letter to the Prime Minister calling for Parliament to be given the right to throw out existing laws from Brussels and block new ones.
The MPs say the move would allow Britain to ‘recover control over our borders, lift EU burdens on business, (and) regain control over energy policy…in popular and sensible ways.’
By agreeing to be in the EU you’ve signed away the right to do that. EU law is made in Brussels and then imposed in Westminster. It’s not something there’s any choice left over.
Migrants from poor countries that join the European Union should be banned from moving to Britain, David Cameron has suggested.
The Prime Minister said unrestricted immigration should only be allowed from countries that have a similar level of wealth to the UK.
Not something the UK gets to decide that, is it?
And it’s entirely irrelevant anyway. It would only apply to new entrants and thus not to Romania and Bulgaria, which is what everyone is worrying about. And until the Ukraine comes in in 2040 or whatever there’s only going to be a couple of Balkan scrap joining anyway.
Bureaucracy is one of the reasons for slow growth:
Britain’s £16bn plans for its first nuclear plant in a generation could be delayed or derailed by an EU investigation into possible illegal state support, which is likely to be launched within days.
European Commission officials are expected to publish a strongly-worded list of potential breaches of state aid laws in the funding arrangements for the Hinkley Point project, in an initial decision as early as Wednesday.
Under a deal struck by the Government with French energy giant EDF in October, UK energy bill-payers would be committed to paying billions of pounds in subsidies for the plant in Somerset for 35 years.
The EC could reject or approve the deal outright but is expected instead to launch an investigation that could take until summer 2015, derailing EDF’s plans to take a final investment decision in July 2014.
Now, whether it is state aid or not is a matter for the rules. Which is fine: I’m not arguing that there should be no rules on such things. But what in buggery is going to make it take 18 months to work it out? Somewhere in Brussels there is a little book, within which is the definition of state aid. We need one person to read the book and then read the deal and then decide whether the deal is legal or not.
This should take even a bureaucrat perhaps one long weekend. So what the fuck are they going to be doing for the other 545 days? Polishing their knobs or their expense accounts?
Hang the lot of them say I….
One of the world’s leading economists will today admit he was wrong to back the creation of the euro – and call for it to be dismantled.
Sir Christopher Pissarides, who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2010, was once a passionate believer in the benefits of the single currency.
But in an extraordinary change of heart, today he will warn the euro is creating a ‘lost generation’ of unemployed youngsters and is ‘dividing Europe’.
The Cypriot-British economist will call for action to ‘restore the euro’s credibility in international markets’ and to ‘restore the trust that Europe’s nations once had in each other’.
And restoring that credibility means:
He will say that unless there is a dramatic change of policy the euro should be broken up.
‘The euro should either be dismantled in an orderly way or the leading members should do the necessary as fast as possible to make it growth and employment-friendly,’ he will say.
It was a complete cocknob of an idea in the first place of course. And it’s also now an obviously failed experiment.
Get rid of it.