Archive for August 2011

Daily Mail poll shows 72% support for English independence

You won’t see much about this in the press or on TV but yesterday’s poll of the day in the Daily Mail asked Are you in favour of independence for England?

Daily Mail English Independence Poll

Obviously an online poll of this sort isn’t a scientific poll because to be considered to be a representative poll it would need to have weighting applied to account for differences in social banding, geography, age, etc., but even applying weighting wouldn’t turn 71% in favour to a majority in opposition.

Sky to lose exclusive film rights?

Sky has been told that it may lose its exclusive rights deals with 6 film companies which allows it to show new films first to introduce more competition and give consumers more choice.

This is, of course, what they said about directory enquiries.  Before the replacement of the 192 service with 118 number, it cost 50p for a directory enquiries search and it was free from BT phone boxes.  Now it’ll now cost you at least £1.75 assuming you can do the whole thing from start to finish in less than a minute.

It’s what they said about deregulating the energy markets and all this competition has led to is increasing bills and consumers being ripped off.

At the moment you have a choice if you want to watch new films when they’re released for TV broadcasting – you can subscribe to Sky Movies or use Sky Box Office or you can wait a few months until they end up on one of the network channels.  Ok, you have no choice but to pay Sky for the privilege of watching the film but you’re not tied into subscribing to Sky TV – you can get Sky Movies on Virgin Media and BT Vision.

The truth is, it’s not consumers that need more choice, it’s Sky’s competitors.  More competition often does mean better value for consumers but in this case it means more unnecessary cost and less choice for consumers.  If Sky, Virgin and BT are all allowed to “share” the exclusive deals then consumers who want to watch all new films as soon as they’re released for TV viewing would have to subscribe to Sky, Virgin and BT Vision.  If nobody is allowed to sign exclusive deals with film companies then the film companies lose the money they get from Sky which means they have less money to spend on making and distributing films.

100,000 voices for England

English parliament

A gentle reminder that the petition to get the need for an English Parliament debated in the British Parliament is still about 97k short of its target.

Opinion polls show that 7 out of 10 people support the creation of an English Parliament so what are you waiting for?  Sign the petition and spread the word!

The British have lost Wales

There is a misguided belief in “Britain” amongst the political classes, a belief that below the surface there is a common British identity that unites us all and will stave off the forces of celtic nationalism.  Their obsession with celtic nationalism and indifference to English nationalism will come back to bite them in the arse but that’s a different topic.

I’ve just got back from a fortnight’s holiday – the first week was spent in Somerset and the second week in Ceredigion (or Cardiganshire as it used to be called).  There was an abundance of English flags in Somerset (Burnham-on-Sea to be exact) but not to the exclusion of the British flag, just a lot more St George’s Crosses than the butchers apron.  Wales was different though (at least the part of Wales we stayed in) – the only British flag I saw was, ironically, outside the Welsh Assembly building in Aberystwyth where it occupied one of the “other” flag poles to the side of the Welsh flag, the other “other” pole sporting the ring of stars logo of the EU.

Flags aren’t the only symbol of nationhood and cultural independence of course and this is where the Welsh have the English at an advantage: the Welsh language.  People in the street, in cafés and shops spoke Welsh to each other.  Not just old people who grew up in a time when Welsh communities were often isolated and the Welsh language survived simply because they weren’t exposed to English, it was people my age and most importantly, young people.  Welsh kids sitting in cafés with their family quite easily swapped and changed between English and Welsh depending on who they were talking to without hesitation and they are the ones who will decide what the de facto first language of Wales is in a decade or so.

Road signs are an indication of the change in the status of the Welsh language.  Dual-language signs were permitted in 1965, a national roll-out started in 1972 and until relatively recently they have generally been in the form of English road signs with Welsh translations.  The opposite is now true in most of Wales – the road signs are in Welsh with English translations.  English speakers are accommodated alongside Welsh rather than the other way round such as you might find in arab countries where the latinised version place names are included underneath the arabic.

English being the lingua franca of international trade and diplomacy has many advantages on the world stage but at home it takes away one of the most obvious things that unites a people and sets them apart from their neighbours.  If England had a unique language of its own in everyday use – pockets of Old English speakers, perhaps, that could be used as a starting point – then the English identity would be a lot stronger than it is now and we wouldn’t be facing problems such as the threat from Britification and the public’s willingness to accept institutional discrimination as the price of the union.

Wales, like Scotland, has been lost by the British.  The symbols of British cultural imperialism that you see in England just don’t exist in the celtic nations.  The companies and political parties investing in Britishness are limiting themselves to an increasingly narrow section of English society who still believe in Britain.  Support for English devolution is consistently falling just shy of the 70% mark whilst support for English independence has jumped to 36% in a Comres poll published in July this year.  A TNS-BMRB opinion poll published in June this year showed that support for Scottish independence has risen to 37% (51% in people under 24) and in Wales the most recent opinion poll I can find is 2007 which shows support for independence at just 12%.  Support for devolution in Scotland was 70% in a 2009 Populus poll, the Welsh referendum on extending devolution this year was 64.5% and the last poll I’ve seen in England was 67%.  Support for devolution in England is higher than in Wales and almost as high as Scotland.  But the independence figure is the one that is most interesting – almost as many English people support English independence as Scots do for Scotland (and significantly more than support Welsh independence) but the rate at which support for independence is increasing in England far outstrips any increase in support that Scotland has ever seen.

Companies have already realised that Britain is a toxic brand in Scotland and Wales which is why you will rarely find anything overtly British in shops and supermarkets outside of England.  The same goes for political parties – there is not a single -England arm of any UK political party but they all have -Scotland and -Wales arms.  Charities and non-profit organisations are the same – there is an Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age UK; there is a British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland, BMA Wales and plain old “the BMA” for England.  What they have failed to notice is the increasing irrelevance and even opposition to “Brand Britain” in England and that will cost them dearly in the very near future.

The union could still have a place in our future, albeit in a significantly different form to the current union but it will only survive the next few years if it is reconfigured on the basis of fairness, equality and respect for all the people of these four nations.  There is a small (and I mean small – a couple of years at the most) window of opportunity for the British to save their union but they will need to put their imperial past behind them and start thinking the unthinkable: most of “Britain” isn’t British any more.

Report says English kids should study maths to 18

A report by Carol Voderman for the British government says that almost half of  English children are leaving school at 16 without managing a C or better in their maths GCSE’s and they should all study maths until they are 18.

The report also says that 300,000 16 year old English students leave school every year without a good enough understanding of maths to function in everyday life.

Firstly, the motivation for commissioning this report: the British government intends to force English children to stay at school until they are 18 by 2013.  The report gives the “evidence” required to justify the requirement to send your children to school for another two years.  There will be more reports like this as 2013 gets closer to show that the British government are doing the “right thing”.

Secondly, the reason why English kids are getting such poor results: inadequate funding and a lack of grammar schools.  The British government spends significantly less on education in England than the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish.  I’ve not heard any mention of problems with numeracy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so presumably the extra funding they get from English taxes has resulted in a better education.

I’ll concentrate more on the lack of a functioning grammar school system as I’ve done the funding thing to death on this blog over the years.  It’s an indisputable fact that some people are thinkers and some people are doers.  Some people’s brains are wired for academic education and some are wired for vocational education.  The two tier education system that we used to have with grammar schools catered for this difference by filtering out the children that were capable of an academic education and sending them to grammar schools and sending those that weren’t capable of a purely (or primarily) academic education to comprehensive schools where they could get a well-rounded education.

There is no shame in the grammar school system – you get the type of education you need, rather than everyone getting the same type of education regardless of suitability.  It’s not surprising that half of all English children are leaving school without a C in their maths GCSE’s, some kids are just never going to get algebra, geometry, statistics, etc.  They need a vocation education with education by practical example rather than pure theory.  When the national grammar school system was in place, it gave opportunities to many academically gifted children from deprived backgrounds who would otherwise have seen their talent wasted.

Now back to the motivation for commissioning this report: building the back story for the increase in the school leaving age in England in two years time.  When this first came up I questioned how it would work and who would pay for it

Will boarding schools be required to provide married quarters for childhood sweathearts who decide to get married at 16 or will the minimum age for getting married be increased to make sure you don’t end up with married couples spending double Science arguing about who’s cooking the dinner when they get home from school and why they have to have the mother-in-law round for Sunday dinner that weekend?  What about couples who decide to start a family at 16?  It’s perfectly legal – will schools start providing crêche facilities?  Who will pay for them?  Will 16 year old girls be entitled to maternity leave from school?  What about the benefits that will be paid out to these people who have a family at 16 but can’t work because they have to go to school until they’re 18?  Ok, so most 16 year old parents would rather laze around on benefits rather than get a job but not all of them do.  Upping the age you can get married to 18 won’t work either.  You need your parents consent to get married at 16 or 17 in England now but there’s nothing to stop you going to Scotland and getting married at 16 without your parents permission because the law is different there.

Add to that the question of what will happen to families moving between England and Scotland or England and Wales.  Will a Scottish or Welsh 16 year old who has already left school at home moving to England be required to re-enter school?  Will 16 year old English kids be able to move to Scotland or Wales and leave the education system entirely without qualifications and without completing their basic education?  Will English kids be able to go straight from secondary school in England to university in Scotland or Wales, bypassing sixth form/college or will they have to study for another two years (at whose expense?)  before they can go to university?  Will Scottish and Welsh kids be able to go to university in England two years earlier than their English counterparts?

I have tried to put these questions to the British Department of English Education but the contact page on their website is broken. I’ll let you know if I get an answer!

Trades Unions counter-protesting against EDL in Telford

The English Defence League are coming to Telford next weekend to protest in Wellington, motivated by the (alleged) muslim paedophile gang currently standing trail for grooming teenage girls.

Labour councillors have come out in opposition to the march and are getting behind Councillor Mike Ion’s campaign to deny the EDL their right to peaceful protest on the basis that he doesn’t agree with them, rather than concerns about them causing trouble.  Councillor Ion does, however, express concerns about violence erupting if fascist left wing thugs like UAF come out to hold their usual violent counter-protests.  Councillor Ion’s campaign has even attracted the support of the new leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, Kuldip Singh Sahota which doesn’t bode well for the next four years.

Now Shropshire & Telford Trades Union Council has organised a “unity” counter-protest to celebrate multiculturalism which will be held in another part of Wellington at the same time.  Most members of the vicious left wing fascist group, UAF, are union activists as well and will undoubtedly be out in force in Wellington to incite violence.

I have three questions about this counter-protest:

  1. What the fuck has this got to do with workers’ rights?  Trades unions are there to promote workers rights, not organise protests against activities that have nothing to do with workers rights.
  2. Is this kind of activity compatible with the constitution of the unions represented by the trade union council or the council itself?
  3. Have union members voted to support the action?

The EDL have a legal right to peaceful protest – it’s in the Human Rights Act.  Similarly, union members, UAF, Socialist Workers Party and other left wing fascists have a right to peacefully protest against them.  But trades unions?  If it’s not in their constitution then the organisers of the protest are acting ultra vires and are leaving themselves open to prosecution from any union member who opposes their action.

Scottish doctor says English students should sell kidney to pay tuition fees

What an organ head

A Scottish doctor, Dr Sue Rabbitt Roff, has suggested that English university students should sell one of their kidneys to pay for their tuition fees!

Roff has written on the British Medical Journal website in favour of the right to sell your organs for profit and suggested that those wishing to sell a kidney should receive the national average salary of £28,000 which they might like to use to pay university fees.

Alternatively, we could stop Scottish MPs imposing racist tuition fees on English students by creating an English Parliament so they can’t vote n things that are non of their business.  Slightly less extreme than selling your kidney to subsidise free university education in Scotland.

Petition the British government (not that it’ll make much difference!)

The British government’s ePetitions site has gone live today and failed spectacularly.  Even this late in the day it’s still crashing more often than not as it’s not been scaled adequately for the feeding frenzy that was inevitable for its launch.  Should have hosted it in a cloud with some other online services that have an annual peak later on in the year and used the latent capacity.

Sorry, should have posted a geek alert.

I’ve signed a few petitions tonight.  Obviously I think they’re all important in one way or another otherwise I wouldn’t have signed them but these are my top three so please sign them too!

  • Britain wants referendum to leave EU
    The Daily Express is crusading to end Britain’s membership of the European Union. We want the Government to arrange for an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU either by means of an enabling referendum or directly so that the British people are once again placed in charge of their own political destiny. We would like this matter debated in parliament.
  • Creation of an English Parliament
    That England be given within the framework of devolution the same national political institutions as Scotland, including the creation of a Parliament, the office of First Minister, of a Government and a dedicated civil service for all of a united England. At present, England has no purely English national political institutions and thereby suffers from unfair treatment within the UK. The creation or revival of a English Parliament will answer the question ‘Who speaks for England?’ and should ensure that the interests of all the people of England are given higher priority and greater care. As John Bright famously said: ‘England is the Mother of all Parliaments’. It is well time that England regained her own Parliament.
  • Reinstate the hereditary peers
    A petition for the reinstatement of the hereditary peers to the house of lords, whos right to sit and vote in the upper chamber was abolished under the house of lords act 1999.

The reasons why we should have a referendum on membership of the EU are obvious.  We’ve given away our sovereignty, our wealth and our resources to the EU.  The sooner we’re out of it the better.

The reasons for an English Parliament are similarly obvious.  It is a travesty that English still doesn’t have a government of its own and a national insult.  England is the last colony of the British Empire, we need to throw off the British yoke and start running our own country for our own benefit.

Reinstating the hereditary peers is something I’ve written about several times.  I have always believed it was a regressive step to abolish hereditary peers and the fact the the House of Lords is now full to bursting with politically appointed peers as reward for donations and services rendered backs that belief up.  Only hereditary peers can give us the randomness and independence of though that is needed in government.

If any of these petitions reach 100,000 signatures then it will be debated in the House of Commons.  100,000 sounds like a lot but the road pricing petition started by Peter Roberts on the old Downing Street petitions website got almost a million signatures and according to the bods that ran that service, the petition did actually get well over 1m signatures but the site couldn’t cope with the demand and they weren’t all counted.  100,000 signatures is a lot for a petition but it’s not a number that can be dismissed easily.

Of course a debate doesn’t mean a change of policy and one MP (I forget who it was and where I read it) said that MPs should “lead on policy” not listen to what the people want.  One thing’s for sure – if they don’t already want to change policy a 100,000 signature online petition certainly isn’t going to make them!

Iain Stewart MP’s argument against an English Parliament

On the 11th of February this year, Iain Stewart MP (the carpetbagging Scottish MP for Milton Keynes South) spoke on the Territorial Extent Bill – a welcome but ultimately doomed attempt to force the British government to specify the territorial extent of an Bill that gets published.

In his speech he acknowledges the need to do something about the West Lothian Question and sums up the problem pretty well.  He also sums up the three “perfect” solutions pretty well – abolishing devolution, replacing devolved bodies with Grand Committees of British MPs based on the country they were elected in and a devolved English Parliament.

So far so good but what’s this you say Iain?

One option would be to have a separate English Parliament with the same powers as the Scottish Parliament. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington said, and as others have argued, the difficulty with that is that England would represent more than 80% of the population and more than 80% of the gross domestic product in one unit. I cannot think of a stable modern democracy with an advanced economy where there is such an overwhelming dominant part in a federation. Any other country with a federal system contains two or more big states that balance each other out. For example, Canada contains Ontario and Quebec, and Germany contains Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia. If England were to be a separate entity in a federal system, the arrangement would have too much of an imbalance.

That old chestnut. A few people have said that they can’t think of a stable modern democracy with an advanced economy where this is such an overwhelming dominant part of the federation.  Can anyone think of an unstable country with one?  Or any country of any description?  It’s never been tried so there is no evidence that it can’t work.  In 1497 no country had ever had an empire that covered one third of the globe and belonging to a country that is, relatively speaking, tiny.  Yet by the 18th century that’s what had happened with the British Empire.  Britain’s voice should have been drowned out by the likes of Canada, India and Australia – massive countries with huge populations – yet a succession of British monarchs reigned over one third of the planet and still today the Privy Council the final court of appeal for some former colonies.

The size of England compared to Scotland, Wales and NI is a moot point.  English politicians would legislate for England, Welsh politicians for Wales, Scottish politicians for Scotland, Northern Irish politicians for Northern Ireland and British politicians for Britain.  England need have no more influence than it has now in the British Parliament.  As seen with English university tuition fees and English foundation hospitals, the Scots are more than capable of swinging the vote in Westminster.  The English Parliament, as clearly defined as the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies, would be solely concerned with legislating for England on devolved matters.  It wouldn’t have the authority to pass laws in Scotland, Wales, NI or for the whole UK.

If the English Parliament proved to be as effective at lobbying the British government for English interests as the Scottish Parliament has been for the last decade at lobbying for Scottish interests then that is a welcome development but it’s hard to see what reserved matters would directly affect English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish interests to the extent that their governments would feel the need to lobby the British government over them and if national interests were so divergent on that subject then it should be devolved anyway.

The simple fact of the matter is that over a decade of devolution has resulted in a decrease in support for independence in Scotland and Wales whilst during the corresponding period, support for English independence has increased to 36% from only 1 or 2%.  In other words, devolution has reversed the increasing support for Scottish independence whilst a lack of devolution in England has started a trend of phenomenal growth in support of English independence. Clearly the way to save the union is to devolve power to an English government.  If MPs are uncomfortable with making the decision on which form that government should take then they could at least support the very reasonable solution of allowing the English people to decide for themselves in a referendum.  After all, if the Welsh and Scots are capable of deciding what the best form of government is for their countries, surely we English are equally capable of making the same decision?

A sensible immigration rule at last!

An Indian woman who came to live in England on a Malawian passport is fighting the British government’s refusal to allow her husband and children the right to come and live with her here.

One of the very few restrictions the ConDems have put on immigration is that immigrants from outside the EU must have a basic command of the English language before they’re allowed to move here (immigrants from EU countries can continue to refuse to learn English, hampering integration with society and putting an unnecessary burden on the state).

Vali Chapti refuses to learn to speak English but still wants to come and live in England with his wife.  He says that because he’ll be living in Leicester, he doesn’t need to speak English because there are enough people there who speak Gujurati.  He and his wife claim that refusing to allow him to move here is a breach of their human rights to marriage and family and said that if they don’t win their appeal they will take the case to “a higher court – the European Court of Human Rights”. Rashida Chapti is being helped by Leicester Labour Councillor, Mian Mayat, who is her “interpretor and advisor”.

I won’t get sidetracked on a rant about how the EU courts have primacy over our own but there is no doubt that the EU Court of Human Rights will rule against the British government.  Vali and Rashida Chapti do have a right to live together as a married couple and as a family with their seven children but they don’t have a right to do that in England.  Rashida Chapti can leave England and live with her husband and children in India any time she likes, the British government is not preventing her from being with her family.

Immigration is out of control and damaging society and the economy.  We don’t have enough jobs and houses to go around the people already living here, let alone the people who want to move here.  We don’t have enough money to provide translation services or benefits for people who are unemployable because they don’t speak English.  Racial and religious segregation – the result of multiculturalism – is damaging to society, causing social and economic problems and stirring up racial tensions.  We need a freeze on economic immigration and then a points-based system applied to all prospective immigrants (including from the EU) to ensure that people moving here have skills that we need, have a home to move into, have the means to support themselves and speak English.

Devine released after serving quarter of his sentence

Former Labour MP and convicted fraudster, Jim Devine, has been released from prison after serving just a quarter of his sentence.


Devine stole over £8k of taxpayers money by submitting fake invoices and was banged up for 16 months ago for it.  Releasing him after only 4 months and tagging him is a disgrace but seems to be the the way these thieving MPs are going to be treated.  David Chaytor and Eric Illsley have both been released after serving a quarter or less of their sentences for stealing from the taxpayer.

MPs have the lives of millions of people in their hands.  They are in a unique position of power and trust and any abuse of that power or trust should be punished severely and without mercy.  Devine, Chaytor, Illsley and the other MPs and Peers who’ve been convicted of stealing from the taxpayer should have received longer sentences and they should have been forced to serve the full amount.  No time off for good behaviour, no release under licence.

And when they were released from prison they should have been forced to carry out community service in every deprived neighbourhood in the country so they can give something back to the people living below the poverty line that they forced into paying tax on threat of imprisonment who they then stole from.

ConDems: Tough on crime, tough on the consequences of crime.