Friday, 26 May 2006

What if Britain is left behind?

Another great piece from my mate Daniel Hannan ... our MEP

I have always had a sneaking regard for the new Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi -- a feeling which, as far as I can tell, is wholly unreciprocated. Shortly after he was appointed President of the European Commission in 1999, I conducted an interview with him, during which I asked about the curious episode of Aldo Moro. Aldo Moro, you may recall, was the former Italian Prime Minister who, in 1978, was kidnapped and later murdered by the Red Brigades. While he was being held, Prodi, then an academic, went to the police and told them (correctly) that Aldo Moro could be found at a place called Gradoli. Asked how he knew, he replied that he had been playing with a Ouija board when the spirits of dead Christian Democrats had moved the glass to spell out G-R-A-D-O-L-I.

Prodi became more than a little testy when I raised the subject. Later, when the interview was published, his press officer falsely claimed that he thought he had been speaking off the record. But the episode did nothing to diminish my admiration for the old boy. Don't be fooled by the grey bureaucrat act. Prodi is a man who speaks his mind with admirable clarity. When other Commissioners were denying that EU armed forces were under construction, he cheerfully told a British newspaper: "If you don't want to call it a European army, fine -- you can call it Margaret, you can call it Mary-Ann".

Now, evidently still under the influence of those dead Christian Democrats, he says he wants an advance guard of EU states to push ahead with much deeper integration, leaving the sceptics to stew in their indecision. To which I say: bravo! Most of the acrimony among EU members these past 30 years has been caused by differences over political union. Whatever compromise is reached, it is always a step too far for the British, but never enough for the founding, federalist states. The result is that no one is happy. The British -- and, to a lesser extent, the Swedes and Danes -- feel they are being dragged à contre coeur into a union that they do not want, while the Belgians and Germans and Italians feel that they are being impeded by constant British whingeing and vetoing. In consequence, a project that was meant to be all about friendship among Europe's nations ends up causing friction.

If the core, Carolingian countries want to merge themselves into a single polity, if they want an EU army, a European police force, a President of Europe, a Continent-wide tax system, good luck to them. Britain should look on as a friend and sponsor, an external flying buttress. It is no part of our business to tell other sovereign countries how to relate one to another -- even if they want to abolish their separate sovereignties.

By the same token, though, Britain should be allowed to opt out of a number of policies currently under EU jurisdiction. Although it is reasonable to accept a degree of harmonisation of cross-border questions, Brussels is currently administering a number of policy areas of essentially domestic concern: farming, fishing, employment law, industrial relations, the status of local government, the interpretation of human rights, transport policy, immigration, defence, energy policy. In return for allowing the Euro-enthusiast states to use the EU's mechanisms and procedures to forge ahead on their own, Britain should seek to recuperate its autonomy in these areas -- and to allow other states to do the same.

I suspect, although I have no way of knowing, that if Britain were to set the precedent in this way, others among the EU's more free-trading, maritime members would seek a similar status. They may even team up with the EFTA states, so that Europe would divide into two amicable associations: an inner core, with most of the attributes and trappings of a federal state, and a peripheral aureole of free trading nations, looking as much to the open main as to their Continental neighbours. These two blocs would be bound together through the constant nexus of a free market, and also by frequent collaboration on other matters. They would support each other diplomatically, commercially and, in extremis, militarily. Indeed, they ought to get on far better than they do now, when every budget negotiation and every EU summit ends up pitting them against each other.

So go for it, Prodi. We'll be cheering you on from the sidelines. After all, Churchill always envisaged a European federation with Britain outside it -- a compromise that, had it been adopted at the time, would have spared us all a great deal of anguish. You'll be better off without us and, in your heart, you know it. You'll lose a bad tenant, but you'll gain a good neighbour.

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Democracy Healthy In Turkey

In Ankara this week students were out on the streets protesting. It seems student fees are an International issue. Education, education, education! It reminded me I have not seen a serious student protest here in Britain in ages here. Is that a sign we are happy, that everything is well, or are students just not that interested in protesting? Note the heavy police presence, and police armoured vehicles. Pleased to report no-one was hurt that I am aware of.
If you want a wonderful link telling you a lot about Turkey:

A Midas Touch?

On a business trip to Turkey this week I took time to visit two of the ancient seats of civilisation in Anotolia and Gordion. Turkey is often underestimated (as we found to our cost in 1915). My first trip took me to the ancient Kingdom of Gordion, where the famous King Midas ruled (B.C.700), and is buried in the largest know tumulus. he was blessed and cursed with the ability to touch an object and turn it to gold. On the brink of starvation the Gods allowed King Midas to wash himself of this gift in the River Pactolus. A river that carries gold dust to this day. (I knew I should have packed my swimming trunks). The burial chamber is 450 feet deep into the burial mound and is like a little swiss cabin made of pine - and still in tact. An access tunnel for visitors enables you to look into the last resting place of this legendary ruler portrayed in the ancient Myth.
I also saw the remains of the great Hittite Empire with their monuments, statues, and reliefs that reminded me of my recent visit to Egypt. Above and below are a few pictures I took. One is of the great King Tarhunza who ruled BC800 and the other is of some bird men who I felt some empathy for!

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

Happy Europe Day

A reminder from my mate Daniel Hannan MEP....

Happy Europe Day

Today is Europe Day. No doubt you were already aware of it, and have spent the day in prayer and fasting. It commemorates the Schuman Declaration of 1950, which proposed common French-German control of coal and steel resources - not the fall of France, which took place exactly ten years earlier. These days, EU officials celebrate the anniversary by giving themselves yet another bank holiday.

Friday, 5 May 2006

Thank You

Thank you Empress for selecting me to work for you as your new Borough Councillor. It was an outstanding and record breaking result for us, and I am already getting down to work. There is much to do, and I intend to make good on the commitments I have made during the campaign as soon as I can.
It would be rude if I did not pay thanks to a number of people - not in any particular order, but as they come to mind:
1. Linda and the family for putting up with my absence and neglect during the campaign.
2. Brian Parker my Agent who worked tirelessly and energetically.
3. The fantastic campaign team, and all the volunteers that offered and gave their help.
4. My nephews Joshua and Jesse for being top class leafleteers.
5. Imprint for doing not just a good job of the print, but turning it round very quickly.
6. Fellow Empress Ward Councillor Patricia Hodge and our MP Gerald Howarth for their support.
7. Council Leader Peter Moyle and Cllr Ken Muschamp for the leaflet they produced across the Borough in support of all the Conservative candidates.
8. Council Staff that have responded to my complete bombardment of issues to tackle. (And don't think it will now stop)
9. Work, who thought I had resigned!
10. The other election candidates and agents that behaved impeccably, and were not just courteous but genuinely friendly and a delight to be associated with.
11. Our supporters in the ward that not only pledged their support to us but made sure they voted.
12. Those that do not normally support us, but took a chance this year.
Thank you. I firmly believe "together we will make a difference"
For those interested in the statistics the final poll was as follows:
Christopher Wright (Labour) 150
Crispin Allard (Lib Dem) 544
David Clifford (Conservative) 1222
Turn Out 43.3%
For other results in Rushmoor see
It was a very good night for us Conservatives nationally as well as locally where we have gained 3 more seats on Rushmoor. One from an Independent and two from the Liberal Democrats.

Thursday, 4 May 2006

Today is your Day

Well, the time for my listening and talking is over.
It is now time for the silent majority to speak through the ballot boxes.
You can make a difference - do not leave it to others.
I look forward to seeing you at the Polling Stations which are open from 7am to 10pm

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to my mate Arun who is 6 today. This day in 1963 Martin Luther King gave his great "I have a dream" speech - what a wonderful day to have an anniversary.

See for more information

My favorite picture of Arun is the one below with his brother:

Tuesday, 2 May 2006

Weekend Voting - what do you think?

I would really be interested in feed back from you about the weekend voting in the town centre. I have to admit I was a little surprised that the number of people taking the opportunity was so low, we estimate about 1200.
We have about 60,000 people on the electoral role, 7,000 are registered postal voters. Which leaves about 53,000 voters casting their votes at the ballot boxes. So just over 2% of those eligible. It has to be appreciated that new idea's often need time for people to adjust to them, so I hope this pilot continues for at least 2 more years.
It is also worth noting that a number of young people registered for the first time. Because of the town centre presence and if nothing else, it raised the profile of the election in a very direct way. I know a few people voted that otherwise would not have. Being over a Bank Holiday weekend did not help either. Although I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people shopping in our town that were not Farnborough residents. I talked to many people from Camberley, Aldershot, Basingstoke and Guildford, and no, they were not lost.
What do you think of weekend voting?

Bread is Dangerous

I was amused at this article doing the email rounds.
It does, however, make a serious point that we are sometimes obsessed and misled by statistics. So a nice reminder that when looking at statistics ... use your loaf!

Research on bread indicates that:
1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.
2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.
3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, and influenza ravaged whole nations.
4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.
5. Bread is made from a substance called "dough." It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average person eats more bread than that in one month!
6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and osteoporosis.
7. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after as little as two days.
8. Bread is often a "gateway" food item, leading the user to "harder" items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, and even cold cuts.
9. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
10. Newborn babies can choke on bread.
11. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
12. Most bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.

In light of these frightening statistics, it has been proposed that the following bread restrictions be made:

1. No sale of bread to minors.
2. A nationwide "Just Say No To Toast" campaign, complete celebrity TV spots and bumper stickers.
3. A 300 percent tax on all bread to pay for all the societal ills we might associate with bread.
4. No animal or human images, nor any primary colours (which may appeal to children) may be used to promote bread usage.
5. The establishment of "Bread-free" zones around schools.