Search and rescue fiasco
I heard this morning that the Government intends to withdraw the search and rescue helicopter at Portland in about 2016. I shall try and remain calm and balanced by saying that this proposal is flawed, and badly so. In his letter to me, the minister, Mike Penning, says that "the south coast will continue to benefit from comprehensive search and rescue helicopter cover from (or near) Lee on Solent, which is located approximately 17-20 minutes flying time from Portland, and Culdrose." This is not the case. Let's just take one example. A diver with the bends needs to be taken to a recompression chamber as fast as possible. Removing the Portland helicopter will mean a diver having to wait a lot longer, and what if the Solent helicopter is on another task, or has broken down? This proposal is ludicrous and I can only think the search and rescue package is being slimmed down to make it more attractive to a civilian operator. I would ask the Government to look again at this as a matter of urgency.
Posted on 28 November 2011 by Richard Drax
My advice to David Cameron as he meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today. It appears that the Germans are trying to tighten their grip on the eurozone countries, but are fed up at having to bale them out financially. I fear that Merkel will ask the Prime Minister for a further contribution from the UK to ensure this ridiculous federalist train remains on the rails. I remain aghast that, despite all the evidence that federalism doesn't work, there is still a small and powerful core of politicians and technocrats who wish it to stagger on, whatever the cost. There is only one realistic option and that is for all countries to re-adopt their currencies, ensuring free trade and of course a level of co-operation on issues like security and immigration. One rule does not fit all. It never has and never will. I, for one, will continue to fight federalism and everything it stands for. What we need now is for our leader to stand up and tell the Europeans in simple language that this centralist nightmare is over and it is time to review the EU and to repatriate all powers back to sovereign countries. If this does not happen, the consequences, including major civil disorder across Europe, are too horrendous to consider.
Posted on 18 November 2011 by Richard Drax
The news from fantasy-land today is not good. Italy is now about to implode, riven as she is by corruption, high interest rates and a debt that's so large as to defy imagination. It genuinely gives me no pleasure to see the eurozone in chaos. The millions of lives this will affect, not least in Greece and Italy, is of monumental concern. However, we must prick this bubble, re-introduce national currencies and allow sovereign countries to claw their way back to the surface, which could take a decade. We hear that Germany and France are in secret talks, examining ways of introducing a super-euro for their two countries. At least these two economies are somewhere on a par, however I don't believe any form of federalism will work and that one day the French citizen will say enough is enough. It is perhaps ironic that a dream to ensure peace in Europe has had the opposite effect, as many of us predicted. In my view, the best and only way forward is to recognise and respect each other's individuality, trade together freely and talk regularly.
Posted on 10 November 2011 by Richard Drax
Whatever the rights and wrongs of this current disagreement between Theresa May and Brodie Clark, we need to review our immigration policy once and for all. Most of us find it incomprehensible that millions of people were allowed to enter this country under the last government for no other reason than Tony Blair thought it was beneficial for Britain to become more multicultural. This was a serious dereliction of duty insofar that of course different races and religions can enrich a country, but uncontrolled immigration is totally unacceptable. We are a tiny island. I've said this before and will say it again. We simply cannot cope with millions more people. With the world facing some serious challenges, not least climate change and growing economic turmoil, more and more people are going to want to seek a better life in countries like the UK. Regrettably, now is the time to say no more and to ensure our borders are secure and not leaking like a sieve.
Posted on 9 November 2011 by Richard Drax
St Paul's and the politicians
The news was full at the weekend of politicians like Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander attempting to use the St Paul’s protesters for their own political purposes. Yet, at the same time as warning how the tented camp represents a danger signal for us all, they say that such behaviour cannot be allowed to dictate our values. In other words, they remain firmly on the fence, while mumbling about a ‘deep unease in our society’. I cannot fathom how Labour, under whom the banks were poorly regulated, can attempt to take the moral high ground like this. There have been a number of commentators, like Rod Liddle and Joan Bakewell, who have taken the time to talk to the people camping outside the Cathedral. The protesters’ reasons for being there vary widely and are generally incoherent. Many are befuddled with drink or drugs, almost no one shares their neighbour’s agenda and the entire camp is turning into a magnet for the genuinely unsavoury, some of whom have reportedly desecrated the doorway to St Paul’s with human excrement.
Posted on 7 November 2011 by Richard Drax
Democracy and the EU
If there were any doubts that membership of the EU damages a nation’s sovereignty, just look at last week’s events. Greece flirted with the idea of a referendum on the bailout, but, instead, they were given a choice: stay in the EU or leave. Prime Minister Papandreou has now resigned after putting together a ‘government of national unity’, the only purpose of which is to uphold the eurozone, no matter what it does to the Greeks. If they leave, they have been left in no doubt that rejoining will be out of the question for at least 10 years. If they stay, eurocrats will be in charge of their recovery programme, overseeing their national finances and dictating tax rises and cuts. Next on the bullies’ list is Italy, which will be given no chance to embarrass the EU by defaulting. But Berlusconi has proved his canniness by inviting the independent IMF to oversee Italy’s finances, which, in view of the eurozone’s ruthless treatment of those who threaten its supremacy, is wise.
Posted on 7 November 2011 by Richard Drax
Iran's nuclear technology
The Vienna based International Atomic Energy Authority, (IAEA), part of the UN, is due to release a new report on Iran’s nuclear activities this week. According to well-informed leaks, the report contains a 12-page appendix, complete with photographs, of Iran’s nuclear facilities at Qom, Natanz and Parchin. The IAEA has been allowed access to Natanz, where uranium enrichment is carried out, and Qom, where underground centrifuges have been installed. However, as Parchin is a military base, used for research and development of missile technology, inspectors have not been able to investigate further. The problem is that there is evidence that Iran has been conducting experiments including explosions and computer simulated nuclear explosions in the fortified tunnels and bunkers under Parchin. Such covert nuclear military activity is in violation of international agreements but it is still thought that the IAEA will find it difficult to get China and Russia to agree to sanctions. Meanwhile, Israel and the USA are beating the wardrums and Iran’s neighbours are becoming increasingly nervous. Many predict that Israel will launch a pre emptive strike, which could plunge the region into crisis. Certainly, the Israelis have not hesitated previously to bomb unauthorized nuclear weapons facilities in both Syria and Iran.
Posted on 6 November 2011 by Richard Drax
It’s hardly surprising that the Greeks are demanding a referendum on whether to accept the rescue package agreed upon by the 17 eurozone countries last week. While several European banks have taken a severe ‘haircut’ under the scheme, effectively writing off 50 per cent of the debt they are owed by Greece, the Greeks are facing civil disorder prompted by the severe austerity programme. To add fuel to the fire, more than half of adults polled object to the bail-out. However, if it’s rejected, Greece risks a full scale default, which would throw the eurozone – and many other countries - into chaos. To bring Greece into line, they are currently being threatened with ejection from the euro. For many commentators this would be no bad thing, with Greece restoring its currency and rebuilding her economy through tourism – just like the old days.
Posted on 2 November 2011 by Richard Drax
Libya's gold rush
Fascinated to learn that the new Libya is now being viewed as a latter day gold rush, with every ex soldier, former spook and entrepreneur rushing across the Mediterranean to grab a piece of the action. Only last week, new defence secretary Phillip Hammond told British businessmen to pack their bags and head out to secure some of the lucrative rebuilding contracts. Our oil and defence companies have long been involved; now, with one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds underpinning what should be an economic boom, the opportunities are limitless. Libya’s well educated adult population is more than ready for the 21st century - and as a result of our assistance, well disposed towards Britain. Incidentally, the Libyan no fly zone enabled the defence industry to showcase our new EurofighterTyphoon and its nearest rival, France’s Dassault Rafale. As a result, the Typhoon’s £7.1 billion deal with the Indian Air Force is edging ever closer.
Posted on 1 November 2011 by Richard Drax
Three members of staff at St Paul's have now resigned as protestors continue to camp outside this historic building. The irony is that this wonderful cathedral survived everything the Germans threw at it, but collapses when a few anti capitalist campaigners squat outside. Does this reflect on what this country has come to? I am all for protesting, but my patience is running out with this who despoil our beautiful streets and squares for weeks and months on end.
Posted on 1 November 2011 by Richard Drax