Now is the time for all those who support a Yorkshire assembly to stand up and be counted

Originally posted on Yorkshire Devolution Movement:

YDM Vice Chair, Stewart Arnold writes:

All the party leaders are making the right mood music about devolution to the English regions. For that we should be grateful. However, I am concerned that this commitment comes in the aftermath of an invigorating (for people) and sobering (for Westminster politicians)debate in Scotland. An important test will be in the weeks and months to come as Cameron, Miliband and Clegg get bogged down in delivering further powers to Holyrood and as the General Election next May beckons. It is beholden on all of us to keep the pressure on.

It’s also important that any plans for devolution involves a conversation with the people of Yorkshire at an early stage. The last thing we want is a one size fits all blue print created by a bureaucrat in Whitehall. If Scotland showed us anything it is that there is a willingness of people…

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My Volkswagen Up Now Ordered

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Just got back from the VW garage after going out for a test drive in a VW Up. My tornado red Take Up car is now ordered and I go to collect it next Friday. Looking forward to it :)

In the meantime – going to a garden party and enjoying the hot weather this afternoon.

Can see some pics of the VW up in red HERE and HERE.

Heatwave!

Today has reminded my of my 4th year and the summer of 1976 – it is hot, hot, hot! and much to sticky to write a proper web post. Never-the-less, I love the warm weather – may it long continue – about time we had a proper summer. The following is the sun setting over my garden today:

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Paramotoring Over Walton

I went paragliding in the Pennines a few years ago and it was good fun. It involved flying as a result of wind blowing against a hill which pushed a pocket of air upwards (ridge lift). This evening I saw an example of its motorized equivalent, paramotoring, near my home. This pastime also looks like great fun. I took some photographs to record this unusual event which can be found below:

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What it Feels Like to be English in 2014!

Forget David Cameron’s fake debate on what it means to be British! The following clip of England goalkeeper Joe Hart at last weekend’s world cup match between England and Italy sums up in a nutshell what it feels like being English in 2014.

NB. WARNING: Before considering watching the clip please note that the F-word is uttered and uttered with great emotion.

To be English in 2014 is to be ignored, undermined and sidelined.  Scotland is due to vote on its independence later this year but England is never given a similar vote – the opinions of the English do not matter in 2014!  Joe Hart sums up both the passion and frustration of a nation.

Shield Bugs in Yorkshire

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I was just looking through some photographs I took earlier this year. I came across one of a rather unusual insect that I took on 30 April 2014. Looking at it, it this exotic creature put me in mind my of the days when I studied geology – it reminded a bit of a trilobite.  I thought I would try to find out what it was so I Googled the phrase “acorn shaped insect”. I came across references to “stink bugs” and “shield bugs”.

According to an article on the BBC website they are more normal in the Mediterranean though they have more recently become established in the south of England. There have been some suggestions that the spread of these creatures is indicative of climate change.

They are supposed to be rare outside of the south of England but I took the following photo in Yorkshire. Hope it means we will have a nice summer!

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How UKIP Can Win The 2015 Election Under First Past The Post

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By Chris Knowles

The results of the 2014 European elections demonstrate clearly that UKIP can indeed win a national election. Many claim that this cannot be translated into 2015 General Election success due to the nature of the British voting system. However, this short paper will argue that the electoral system can be made to serve UKIP’s to the detriment of the establishment parties. This is based on 3 key facts:

  • UKIPs apparent disadvantage is based on perception rather than reality.
  • The three establishment parties are so similar they are nothing more than factions of a single Establishment party
  • The Establishment vote is split three ways while the UKIP vote is unified

The key to success in 2015 will be based on changing perceptions by demonstrating a two horse race and a three way split. The system cannot be changed but the way people think about it can and it is this that can make all the difference.

Only a question of perception

The 2014 poll demonstrated that in terms of percentages more people in the UK sympathised with UKIP than with any other political party. This is reality, the only reason this is not translated into General Election success if because people perceive UKIP defeat under the system as inevitable. As such they believe a vote for UKIP is a wasted vote and therefore do not vote on the basis of their political convictions. This creates a self-fulfilling prophesy that Establishment relies on to maintain its grip on power.

Under First Past the Post the only barrier that UKIP faces is one of perception. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines perceptions as follows:

“noun \pər-ˈsep-shən\
: the way you think about or understand someone or something
: the ability to understand or notice something easily
: the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses” (emphasis added)

The 2014 election has gone some way to changing perceptions – people now know that UKIP can win a national election. The UKIP percentage of the vote is a reality, the supposed disadvantage of First Past the Post is only a perception. All that UKIP needs to do over the next 12 months is change the way the public thinks about First Past the Post and get them to practice conviction politics.

This can be achieved by giving them a simple choice between two options.

Two Horse Race: Establishment versus UKIP

The key to UKIP’s success in 2015 will be to present the contest as a two horse race, a race involving two parties – the Establishment Party and the anti-Establishment UKIP. If the public can be convinced that what are perceived as the three main parties are in reality three factions of a single establishment party First Past the Post can work dramatically in UKIP’s favour. This should not be difficult since, based on experience, it is clear that it makes no difference which one (or indeed two) Establishment factions is the party(s) currently in power. A vote for either of them is a vote for establishment interests and a policy of “more of the same”. In 1997 people were voting for change, they thought that by voting for the Labour Party they would get that change – they didn’t! Past is prologue.

The European Union is a central pillar of establishment thinking and it is inconceivable that anyone who has been allowed to rise to the top of an establishment party will be able to facilitate the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. In November 2009 David Cameron repudiated his previous “cast iron guarantee” to hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty after he received pressure from other European (establishment) leaders. How can we trust Mr Cameron’s supposed commitment for an in-out referendum on EU membership by 2017 after such a dramatic change of policy? The only reason for putting off a referendum on membership of the EU to 2017 is to provide more time to find ways to undermine the popular will on the subject and to devise yet more excuses for continued membership. The only things Cameron’s “cast iron” guarantees yield are piles of rust! Whatever their rhetoric the establishment parties will never give up on the EU because it is so central to their world view. Indeed, the EU is the central pillar of their world view!

The UK, like the rest of the Western world is governed by a system of “Managed Democracy”, not true democracy. Under this system the establishment effectively decides who the public is allowed to vote for. The establishment media, owned by the same people who may effectively own the politicians, acts as their cheerleaders. It is not an impartial player in events but the propaganda arm of establishment interests. It presents its favoured candidates in the most favourable light and smears anyone who is a threat to the establishment’s careful management of the system. You can’t have two masters; you cannot represent the interests of the people as a whole while representing the interests of a tiny elite.

The recent showing by UKIP in the EU parliamentary elections suggests that if people were to vote confidently with their hearts UKIP could quite easily become the largest party in the polls next May. However, in 2015 when the chips are down the establishment factions, Liberal Democrat, Labour, and Conservative “parties”, will stick together. This will prove that they, together, really represent a single Establishment party. This may make the difference between Nigel Farage being Prime Minister or being Leader of the Opposition. However, once the ingrained perception about First Past the Post is broken, all bets are off because the system itself and the rules of the game will be transformed.

The political establishment will not let UKIP run the UK even if it wins the highest percentage of votes. A coalition of Labour and the Conservatives is more likely than a coalition between either of them and UKIP. This is because UKIP goes against the grain of establishment thinking and is opposed to the central establishment interest – unwavering support for the EU. We have already seen evidence of this concept in operation following UKIP’s 2014 electoral victory.
An article in the Thurrock Gazette on 29 May 2014 entitled Labour and Tories “weigh up grand coalition” to keep Ukip at bay gives us a glimpse of the Establishment blueprint for retaining power in the event of a UKIP electoral surge. An coalition comprised of the Conservative and Labour parties in 2015 is not unlikely because as mere factions of the governing class they have more in common with each other than they do with UKIP. The Thurrock situation provides evidence for the two horse race thesis.

Three Way Split for the Establishment Vote

The Establishment’s 2015 nightmare referred to above could be worse than they currently imagine. Instead of Nigel Farage controlling the biggest party while being Leader of the Opposition they could find him as the Prime Minister with more than 50% of the vote.

Once the perception nut is cracked, the logic of the First Past the Post system swings in UKIPs favour and makes such a scenario possible. In a two horse race, people are more likely to vote on the basis of their political convictions and true interests. That could be damaging to the Establishment parties because their own vote would be split three ways. Once perceptions have been changed their apparent advantage under the system is first nullified, and then turned into a weakness.

Add to this the percentage of the population that currently do not vote and the current political system becomes very interesting indeed. UKIP mentioned in the aftermath of the 2014 election that it has secured votes from people who had never voted before. It could be argued that the non-voting public are anti-establishment by definition and therefore more likely to support UKIP. Dissatisfaction with the political establishment and a feeling that they can do nothing about the situation can be a strong motivator for not voting. Such people understand the power of the Establishment and its current grip on the system of Managed Democracy. If UKIP demonstrates that it can succeed against the establishment it is likely that more will come out to vote in the future. Even if there were members of the non-voting public whose prime preference was for Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Conservative factions of the establishment, the three way split would make them less significant under the first past the post system.

If systemic perceptions were changed, a three way split for the Establishment vote would weaken the establishment parties and strengthen UKIP.

Conclusion

The First past the Post electoral system can be manipulated not only to the benefit of UKIP but also to the disadvantage of established or indeed Establishment parties. The three concepts of perception, two horse race, and three way split could form the basis of a UKIP “12 Months to make a difference” campaign to transform UK politics and restore the country’s sovereignty. This would form part of UKIP’s message that would supplement its existing strategy to focus mainly on key seats based on the “Paddy Ashdown Approach” referred to by the UKIP leader after the 2014 poll. The strategy would rest on encouraging positive rather than negative voting behaviour by restoring confidence in conviction politics. “Conviction Politics” is a political technology that can be utilised to restore power to the electorate rather those who manage the system. All UKIP needs to do is to change perceptions by presenting the Establishment parties as a single party in all but name…

UPDATE

An updated draft of this article can be found at UKIPdaily

The EU, Democratic Peace Theory, and the Ukrainian Crisis

Congress-of-ViennaIn my previous article I hinted at the role of European Union foreign policy in the creation of the crisis in Ukraine.  I will now focus on how the EU’s aggressive foreign policy is mirrored by its erosion of democratic structures and its crackdown on dissent in its domestic policy making.

Under Democratic Peace Theory it is postulated that democracies do not wage war on each other.  The EU, as indicated by its institutional structures and its lack of tolerance for political dissent, cannot be regarded as a democracy.  Merely having something referred to as a “parliament” is not sufficient for a political entity to be a democracy.

In some ways the European Parliament is similar to the State Duma of Imperial Russia under Tsar Nicolas II which existed but had no real power.  Imperial Russia was never a democracy just as the European Union has never been a democracy.  The fact that many of the powers of EU states have been transferred to the non-democratic European Commission mean that those individual member states also can no longer be regarded as genuine democracies. According to Democratic Peace Theory this bodes ill for international peace.

I just read an article at Breitbart.com entitled “The European Commission is pumping propaganda money into Britain, trying to interfere in the elections to the European Parliament” that shows how democracy within the European Union has been and continues to be subverted.  This development arises from the fundamentally anti-democratic structure of the EU itself.  If this article is correct then state resources are being actively employed to subvert the democratic process in order to control the outcome of an election.

The dirty tricks or “active measures” against political opponents of the EU regime are not restricted to UKIP.  On 26 April 2014 another candidate for the European elections, Liberty GB leader Paul Weston, was arrested because he quoted Winston Churchill in a speech.  Prior to this the Liberty GB radio host Tim Burton was taken to court in what appears to be an act of vexatious litigation.  After the expense and inconvenience of going to court he was acquitted.  The pattern is clear, it is only opponents of the EU who are arrested and exposed to what amounts to judicial intimidation.

These episodes of political repression illustrate clearly the direction in which the EU is going.  The claimed motive for such repression may be regarded as necessary by many, but never-the-less the impact on democracy is dire.  The way a state treats its own citizens is a window through which to see how it is likely to behave with its neighbours.  Repressive regimes are more likely to have aggressive foreign policies because a population’s natural inclination for peace is more likely to be supressed by those who hold power.

This perhaps explains recent EU policy with regard to Ukraine.  The people of Europe have no interest in the situation in Ukraine, but EU leaders do.  The people of Europe have not real power to stop them from the dangerous course that they have chosen to take.  The anti-democratic basis of the EU makes a major new war in Europe more likely!  Far from blaming Vladimir Putin for the crisis, blame – if any is to be applied, could more likely be laid at the door of the commissars, apparatchiks, and enforcers of the EU.