A German referendum?
German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble has said that Germany must cede sovereignty to Brussels to achieve a closer EU-wide banking union with a shared debt guarantee scheme and a single regulator. That could only happen with the agreement of the German people, he said. And that means a referendum. I do wonder whether the hard working, industrious and financially responsible Germans will want to guarantee the fiscally incontinent continentals’ overdrafts for evermore. I would also like to know when the British, who have seen the EU metamorphose out of all recognition since the common market vote in 1975, will get the referendum we were promised.
Posted on 27 June 2012 by Richard Drax
Shaking hands with terror
It is with mixed emotions that I read the news that our wonderful Queen will shake hands with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness. As a former soldier, and with three tours of Northern Ireland under my belt, I remember this man and his methods well. My own view of this man is unprintable, but one must accept that times move on. However, I would be more sanguine over this meeting if Northern Ireland really was free from violence, but it's not. The IRA in its various guises still rules the roost, unleashing its cruel form of discipline on those who step out of line. Over here on the mainland we ignore it, of course, because it doesn't affect us. Politicians, I am sure, probably think that this is the nearest to peace the province will ever get and they may be right. I just hope and pray that, when McGuinness shakes the Queen's hand, this remarkable moment punches its way into the most hardened and most hateful heart on both sides of the political divide.
Posted on 23 June 2012 by Richard Drax
It beggars belief, but with the eurozone in meltdown, civil disorder spreading and some of its citizens queuing for food, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says we need "more Europe". This is the politics of the deluded. While millions of people, leading real lives across Europe realise this Soviet-style bureaucracy is doomed, the politicians, living in their own little fantasy world, continue down the road to Armageddon. This betrayal is so hard to comprehend that sane voices are quietened by the realisation of it all. This is utter madness and must stop before Europe plunges into the abyss, taking millions of people with it. Where, oh where, have common sense, sanity, morality, decency and honesty gone?!
Posted on 23 June 2012 by Richard Drax
Pointing the finger
The Prime Minister's foray into moralising on other people's tax arrangements was ill-advised. While most of us, I suspect, query Jimmy Carr's methods, he was behaving legally. It is for Governments to close tax loopholes and certainly not for Prime Ministers to single out one citizen, whatever the provocation. As some commentators have pointed out, Mr Cameron has now made a rod for his own back in that the tax affairs of friends, colleagues and donors will now be scrutinised more than ever, bringing unwanted attention to them, especially if they are pursuing both the spirit and the letter of the law.
Posted on 23 June 2012 by Richard Drax
Economics - Soviet style
The Chancellor makes the case for injecting £140 billion into our economy, in the main to help banks lend more. He's also advocating spending more on infrastructure, like homes. It's been argued that in bad economic times it's better to employ people to do something rather than increase spending on the welfare state. I'm tempted to say that their first job, please, would be to lay a new, fast railway line between Weymouth and London! Both Mr Osborne's proposals might appear seductive, but surely this is Soviet-style economics. I am sure we have the capital reserves to execute such moves, but tucking into capital is the road to ruin, however well intentioned. Rather than spending more money, we should, as I have argued consistently for a long, long time, be creating a business environment in this country which allows internal and external investment to flourish. Low taxes, less state interference, radical shake up of employment laws and more local incentives - giving local authorities the flexibility to lower business rates, or temporarily suspend them, if, for example, a florist on the local high street is struggling - would be moves in the right direction. In short, what the business community and country need are a large dose of good, old-fashioned Conservatism. Where is it?
Posted on 17 June 2012 by Richard Drax
Preaching the immoral
Both David Cameron and George Osborne are urging eurozone countries to pursue closer fiscal and political union. They believe, wrongly in my view, that this will stabilise the economic situation, allowing the UK to climb out of double-dip recession and no doubt restore our flagging position in the polls. Quite apart from the fact that federalism has failed already, do we really want a resurgent Germany dominating a vulnerable Europe for years to come? I cannot see even France playing second fiddle to Germany for the longer term; the French won't allow it. There is now talk of a 100 billion euro bail out for Spain. The figures are stratospheric and all in the name of an illusive United States of Europe, or should I say a former Soviet Union! This is the politics of the mad house and I believe it is immoral for us to preach it. Yes, the eurozone crisis is affecting our economy, as the Chancellor says in today's Sunday Telegraph, but we are powerless to do what is really needed - radical lowering of taxes and a bonfire of all the red tape - because of legislation from the EU. I said when I was elected that "we wanted our country back" and that should be our main priority now, so that once again we are truly in charge of our destiny.
Posted on 10 June 2012 by Richard Drax
Time to smell the coffee
I don't know how many times I have blogged on this EU issue, but it must be countless. The EU continues to lurch towards the abyss, while politicians pontificate on how the eurozone can be saved. Their only solution: to borrow billions more euros. It is utter madness and I simply cannot understand why our leaders do not speak the plain truth and tell the Germans and others that this soviet-style one cap fits all is over. It Germany and France wish to retain the euro, so be it. But other EU countries should re-adopt their own currencies and begin the long fight back to economic stability. By delaying the inevitable, the problems will only get bigger and more unmanageable. Meanwhile, David Cameron and George Osborne hint at a referendum. Again, this is inevitable, and both men know what the country will say. Madness is infectious and continues to run amok in the EU. The UK needs to return to sanity and very quickly if we are not to damage our long term interests very badly indeed. Finally, this experiment has shown that if europe is to remain at peace, each country's sovereignty must be respected. Federalism has brought with it the horrors of inflation, unemployment and civil unrest. There is a way forward, and it won't be without pain. We dither further to the detriment of us all.
Posted on 9 June 2012 by Richard Drax
I, like millions of others, sat glued to my television, watching the historic pageant on the River Thames. What a glorious sight. The Queen and Prince Philip were wonderful. The huge crowds and their obvious support for our Royal Family were deeply reassuring. I also noted that neither the Queen nor Prince Philip sat during their long river journey. The two chairs at the front of the barge remained unused. When you consider their age, this in itself was a remarkable feat. I have to say that, as a former BBC journalist, I was disappointed by corporation's coverage. The presenters were all uninformed and in some cases illinformed. Clearly, no research had been done when there must have been a feast of stories floating out there on the Thames. Rather than cutting to presenters who clearly thought the day was about them, we should have seen some well-crafted stories about the 'little ships' from Dunkirk, wounded servicemen, former World War Two veterans et al. People often take a swipe at our national broadcaster and on this occasion they would have been right. A great opportunity missed.
Posted on 4 June 2012 by Richard Drax
I was surprised to read an article about the Tory leadership in today's Sunday Mail, written by an MP who wished to remain anonymous. While I share many of the reservations expressed, anonymity is not the way to do it. If you are going to put opposing views, you should be bold enough to identify yourself with those comments. In that way, you retain your integrity and respect.
Posted on 3 June 2012 by Richard Drax
An excellent and topical article in today's Daily Telegraph reminded me just what was missing at this weekend's celebrations to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee: a naval review. With more than 80 per cent of our trade coming by sea, you would have thought that the ships from the Senior Service would still be ruling the waves. To our eternal shame, though, they are not. And, as the article suggests, I suspect there's no review because, frankly, it would be rather embarrassing. With so few ships to review, what would be the point, except to highlight our folly over many years as governments have reduced our ability to defend our island and overseas' interests to meet increasing public expenditure. One day we will pay for this stupidity and short termism. In the meantime, what should have been one of the greatest spectacles of the weekend is sadly not on the agenda.
Posted on 2 June 2012 by Richard Drax