The Ancestry Visa

The ancestry visa is for those with a grandparent born in the UK. They can come an work for up to five years, no hassles.

The harpies that rule us want to abolish it. For no very good reason though. It seems that it\’s messy or something.

Labour is happy to invoke our history when it wants to make a song and dance about its commitment to Britishness; yet it is content to dispense with one of its most potent manifestations. The ancestry visa is, after all, a symbol of that historic legacy.

You would have expected a mighty outburst of indignation from Parliament about this, yet there has hardly been a squeak. Only Austin Mitchell, the Labour MP for Great Grimsby, who once worked in New Zealand as a university lecturer, has tabled a Commons motion expressing "shock" at the proposal.

So far it has been signed by 43 MPs. As Mr Mitchell points out: "The dominions sprang to our aid when we needed them in two world wars and since. Their inhabitants are of British descent. They are keen to maintain Commonwealth ties and associations with this country."

For good or ill, we are members of the EU and it is part of the deal that all its citizens have an unfettered right to travel to this country, as we do to theirs, to work and settle permanently. But we are so keen on emphasising our European credentials that we are in danger of turning our backs on our own people, who twice in the last century helped rescue Europe from the tyrants who wished to run it.

The cemeteries of France and Belgium are the final resting places for many Commonwealth citizens who lost their lives in defence of this country. Does that count for anything in the Government\’s "consultation" or is this just outdated, old-fashioned thinking?

Quite.

I think that part of it is that the powers that be see any connection with the Commonwealth as being in opposition to our membership of the EU. That I want us out of the EU is one thing but why the relics of Empire should make us less European I\’m not sure. After all, the remnants of the French Empire, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Pierre and Miquelon, these are all in fact part of the EU themselves. And in receipt of substantial funds of ours.

Timmy Elsewhere

At the ASI.

Hurrah for John Lewis and worker\’s co-operatives. It\’s free markets in ownership structures that allow such wondrous things to happen: and said markets are vastly more important to us than capitalism, one form of ownership, is.

Sr. Barroso Speaks Out!

John F Kennedy once said "Consumers, by definition, include us all…. yet they are the only important group…. whose views are often not heard." The European Commission is working hard to change this.

Oooh, ooh, excellent news!

So we\’re going to tear down the customs barriers then, are we? Abolish all quotas, declare unilateral free trade with the rest of the world? You know, get rid of all those barriers that favour producers over consumers?

Empowering consumers can also help break down barriers between Europe\’s national markets. The internal market in Europe will offer empowered consumers more choice.

Eh, we\’ve already got free trade in the internal market. Your work there is done. When are you going to free the access of the 450 million consumers to the produce of the world?

Hmm, of that, sadly, there is nothing. Fiddling at the margins without addressing the major issue: how like a European politician.

Can we leave yet?

 

Nuclear Shipping

Well, maybe this isn\’t all that bright an idea.

An ageing car ferry will ship hundreds of pounds of bomb-grade plutonium from Britain to France this week with just a handful of armed guards to protect it from terrorists.

The ship, a former roll-on-roll-off ferry which has not been identified for security reasons, will take the cargo of plutonium oxide down the west coast and across to a company in France.

There\’s nothing really very wrong with that bit. As long as the material isn\’t stolen it\’s a safe enough way for it to travel.

Dr Frank Barnaby, an expert on nuclear terrorism and a former atom bomb tester, said the plutonium was ideal for manufacturing \’\’dirty bombs".

He said: "A reasonably resourced terrorist group would have no problem making a bomb out of this material. This is madness – totally irresponsible."

The vessel has been minimally converted to carry the toxic load from Sellafield, in Cumbria, to France and is expected to set sail this week, it was reported yesterday.

Campaigners called for the shipment to be stopped.

Martin Forwood, of Core, which monitors nuclear shipments, said: "Ministers should step in and stop this in the light of the terrorist threat."

Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman and MP for Northavon, near Bristol, said: "This is a risk to our national security."

The best way for it not to be stolen is for no one to know when it is sailing, of course. You know, loose lips sink ships, that sort of stuff? That\’s the, err, threat to national security here.

The Government Inspector

Glorious!

Under the plans, inspectors from the EHRC would be empowered to carry out spot checks at any workplace – those where there was cause for concern or firms which had done nothing wrong.

So, a group of bureaucrats, eager to prove that they are indeed needed, that they are uncovering great scandals, can walk into any workplace in hte country and demand to see all the records? Demand to study the entire operating methods of the company? On the basis of no evidence whatsoever?

I have no doubt the burden of proof will be upon the employer as well. That they must prove that they do not discriminate, not that the inspectors must prove they are.

Does anybody understand how expensive such inspections will be? An expense that will have to be, naturally, covered by the businesses themselves?

Douglas Murray, the director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, called the idea "fantastically bureaucratic and expensive".

Quite.

Well, Yes.

Mrs Clinton has repeatedly hinted that Mr Obama could join her on her ticket as a way of ending the current impasse over the nomination.

But if you really wanted to end the impasse as your first and most important aim you would volunteer to run for VP yourself, wouldn\’t you?

That you\’re not tells us something about your offer.

Eh?

It\’s a typical late-\’60s student shindig — most of the audience is tripping on acid — but it\’s hardly an ordinary band. Behind the drums is Chevy Chase, familiar around campus as a gifted musician and good-natured goofball who\’s been known to drop his pants after losing late-night games of \’\’dare\’\’ poker. Just in front of him is a long-haired muso named Walter Becker, one of the school\’s most accomplished guitarists. And the shy singer behind the electric piano? That\’s Don Fagen, decked out in a leather jacket with feathers attached to it (hence the band\’s name).

Travelling Timmy

On the road again, I\’m on the road again….

Off to Exeter for the UKIP SW conference.

If anyone happens to be round and about Exeter central this evening, or near Chequers in Bath (the one up by Portland Place) on Sat at 7 ish, drop me an email with a mobile number and there might be time for a pint.

Perfect Databases

This ID card system: going to be 100% secure and accurate, isn\’t it?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns, with a group of parliamentarians, was once given a demonstration of a facial recognition system. It failed; indeed the system subsequently crashed, twice. The reason? The baroness was told her face was “too bland”.

The only property that all systems have in common is that they fail. And the bigger the system – 60 million entries on a compulsory ID card database – the greater the opportunity of failure. Systems are much like any life form: they degrade over time, they entropy. In the case of databases, the pick up errors and then build data error upon error. The DVLA in Swansea in 2006, for instance, admitted that a third of entries contained at least one error, and that the proportion was getting worse.

We\’ve all had encounters with computer systems that get it wrong. Barclays once refused one of my transactions because they said I was accessing an account owned by a teenage girl named Ian Angell, who lived at my address and was a professor at LSE. I still had to take a morning off work to explain that a 14-year-old couldn\’t own an account that, according to their own records, had been open for 35 years.

It\’s not just going to be a massive and extremely expensive violation of civil liberties, it\’s going to be a disaster as well, isn\’t it?

Swedish Imperialism

Snigger.

Academics in Denmark have accused Ikea, the furniture chain, of "Swedish imperialism" for naming its cheaper products after Danish towns.

The researchers claim to have discovered a pattern where more expensive items, such as beds and chairs, have been named after Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian towns whereas doormats, draught excluders and runners are named after Danish places.

"The stuff that goes on the floor is about as low as it gets," said Klaus Kjöller, of the University of Copenhagen, who described the phenomenon as "Swedish imperialism".

Timmy Elsewhere

Laying out, from the most recent figures, what the gender pay gap is in the UK, the part time pay gap and so on.

It\’s really so that I can just drop the URL into the comments of those Guardianistas who keep getting it wrong. But you can use it that way too, if you like.

The Use of Foundations

Hmm, interesting question really, isn\’t it. Why would people use a Foundation? That is, an organisation which owns itself, and has a charitable purpose?

Businesses owned by one pay the same tax as businsses owned in other ways, so that\’s not it, no. It\’s actually all about the transfer of the ownership of the whole organisation. A new bod can be put into run it, to take advantage of the accumulated wealth, without there being any of that pesky inheritance tax, or CGT, or whatever, usually due on the transfer of the control of such assets. For, you see, ownership doesn\’t change: only who gets the CEO\’s desk and, of course, control of the moolah.

Richard Murphy:

That, of course, is hardly surprising. There is no reason at all why anyone in Jersey would make use of these foundations. They are just another vehicle for subverting the taxation system of the UK and the other populous states of the world to be provided by the tax haven lawyers, accountants and bankers of Jersey for the benefit of their good friends, the accountants lawyers and bankers of the UK and elsewhere.

I will admit that I\’m not quite sure why anyone would want to run such a thing from Jersey. Exactly the same protection of an asset is available onshore, right here in the UK. No, really, it is. The Scott Trust:

The Scott Trust is a British non-profit organisation which owns Guardian Media Group and thus The Guardian and The Observer as well as various local newspapers, Smooth FM (formerly Jazz FM) and other radio stations, and various other media businesses in the UK.

The Trust was established in 1936 by John Scott, owner of the Manchester Guardian (as it then was) and the Manchester Evening News. After the deaths in quick succession of his father C. P. Scott and brother Edward, and consequent death duties, John Scott wished to prevent future death duties forcing the closure or sale of the newspapers, and to protect the liberal editorial line of the Guardian from interference by future proprietors.

The Trust was dissolved and reformed in 1948, as it was thought that the Trust, under the terms of the original Trust Deed, had become liable to tax due to changes in the law. At this time John Scott also gave up his exclusive right to appoint trustees; the trustees would henceforth appoint new members themselves. Five months after the signing of the new Trust Deed, John Scott died. After three years of legal argument, the Inland Revenue gave up its claim for death duty.

Why bother to do it abroad when you can get away with it at home?

Quite

We won\’t end this violence by jailing celebrities or middle-class users. The only way to take back our streets is to wrest back control of the drugs from the criminals, by legalising and regulating their trade.

Imagine if you could buy coke from Boots. Or the aptly named Superdrug. That would drain the glamour from it more effectively than making a martyr of Kate Moss. I don\’t imagine her lovely features would adorn state-regulated packets of white powder, hanging next to the corn plasters. Yes, legalisation would make drugs cheaper, in order to undercut the dealers. Yes, usage might increase. But perhaps not much, because it is already widespread. A third of 16 to 24-year-olds routinely admit to having tried drugs, despite knowing that they are admitting to a crime.

The benefits of legalisation could be enormous. Overcrowded prisons would be relieved of people needing treatment rather than punishment (about 15 per cent of prisoners are in for possession or supply). Addicts would not be forced into associating with criminals. Children could be safe in Britain\’s playgrounds again.