While I suppose I should be gettin all huffy about the EU, trade tariffs and so on:

(Reuters) – Nordic customs officials have arrested a truck driver after he tried to illegally import 28 tons of Chinese garlic into the European Union The driver was intercepted last month as he drove the pungent truckload from Norway, which is outside the EU and where garlic is exempt from customs’ duties, into Sweden where garlic is subject to a 9.6 percent EU- wide duty Smuggling of cheaply produced Chinese garlic nto the EU is on the rise, with around 1,200 tons brought into the 27-nation bloc via Norway since 2009, according to the European Anti-Fraud Office, known as OLAF.”

I can’t help but giggle at Scandinavian customs officers working for an agency called OLAF.




I’ve just watched a sofafull of people on This Morning discussing the latest lunacy coming from the EU: Eggs being sold by weight, not number (attacked excellently here by DK) and something I’ve noticed before hit home even harder. They wail and moan, they gnash their teeth, they ask “who are these people?” who have “just slipped this through” and while they are seemingly content to endlessly whine on and on about how much it will cost and how stupid and pointless the whole exercise is (it`s NOT pointless- the point is control) but they one thing they will NEVER say is that all of this could be ended by leaving the EU. So I’m going to say it for them.


The way that our treasonous membership of this international organisation is constantly presented by the talking heads as a fait accompli is one of the reasons it is such a fait accompli and all the while it is presented as a legitimate part of life that just has the “wrong people” in charge I am afraid that nothing will improve. After all, our New Coalition Overlords (well, half of them at least) promised to be Tough On Europe, right? So we don’t need to leave…

Say What?!

The BBC are reporting this morning that the 1984 law banning the sale of 18-rated video games and DVDs to children is “unenforcable” and all prosecutions will be halted. Sounds fine, but hang on…

The reason is because 25 years ago when the act was passed the European Commision wasn’t informed.

I’m flabberghasted. I knew we weren’t a soveriegn power anymore but really, I didn’t know that we couldn’t enforce our own laws if we didn’t tell the boss we had passed them. It’s going to take three months, apparently, to pass the law again and tell the Commision that we’ve done it, so it’s open season on blue movies and torture porn in the meantime.

But it gets worse:

But previous prosecutions will stand, according to the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)

So… although the law doesn’t (and has never) existed, technically, if you fell afoul of it in the past, you’re still a criminal. How does that work?

Fakes Can Kill You

Forget cigarettes and whiskey, those are long gone. Forget even ham sandwiches. This morning the BBC are reporting that counterfeit goods can kill you.

This comes at the end the segment this morning regarding the French and Italian governments’ descisions to prosecute tourists returning from abroad clutching fake Prada bags and the like. Although our freedom-loving government has decided against this course of action, in the face of this new and severe threat to our economy they have decided to wage an “information campaign” against us, part of which I can only assume this segment was.

After a fairly unconvincing attempt to paint the people buying fake designer goods abroad as stealing job away from the British manufacturing industry (seriously!! Most people who buy a fake Armani handbag are never going to buy a real one, are they? Or did they mean stealing jobs from British counterfeiters?) they guy from the Trading Standards institute wheeled out the now-standard ‘summody-pleeez-thinka-the-cheeeldren argument. Apparantly some uninformed parents bought a fake gameboy charger abroad which malfunctioned and electrocuted their son. Very tragic I’m sure, but seriously, If you’re buying fake electrical goods or medicines then you are taking your life in your hands. Fake designer gear isn’t exactly in the same league is it?

Fake designer gear has been around for years. Apart from the obvous cases (in which caveat emptor applies) no real harm is done to anybody and criminalising tourists for buying something a bit dodgy in a market (and can you see it applying to tourists travelling through France and Italy? I can) is a bit too much for me.

Shock: Wh00ps IS Competent

Well, work think I am, anyway. I spent the last two days doing a ‘Competent Persons Fire Course.’ It’s nice to think I’m competent, but I’m not sure it was worthwhile…

The first day of the course was the fun one, playing with fire extinguishers, that sort of thing. The Triangle Of Fire, all stuff you already know (or should do) and the basic responsibilities of what used to be called a Fire Marshal. Somehow Fire Marshal sounded better than Competent Person, but there you go. Probably something to do with the USSR EU. Perhaps ‘Marshal’ sounds too masculine, offends FemiNazis or something. Who knows? I could probably find out, but I can’t really be bothered. Anyway, the basic responsibilities of the Competent Person are… can you guess? Passing the buck.
“That’s what all elven safety is about, isn’t it?” Remarked the instructor, “Passing the buck. All you have to do is inform your General Manager of problems, then you’re covered. Fill in the forms and that’s it.” I suppose I had thought that I would be responsible, in the event of a fire, for making sure the place was evacuated, headcount and so on, but no. I’m just there to inform someone of missing extinguishers, and iif nothing is done, well… just re-inform the the next week. Nobody is going to look at the records, unless there IS ACTUALLY A FIRE (it’s not currently part of audit) by which time it will be too late. Oh well, like most things in life, I find what I would consider best practice to be far away from what the rest of humanity seems to.

The second day was the “Hard Day.” We had to complete a Fire Risk Assessment for the place we were at, with a view to completing one at our own workplaces. So off we trundled, two hours finding out of date fire extinguishers, blocked or unmarked exits, rubbish under stairwells… there was quite a lot actually, the manager of the place wants shooting. For nearly every box we managed to find something that wasn’t right. Then we went upstairs confident in our danger-finding abilities, only to have him shoot us down at nearly every criterion. I had thought that the point of the excercise was to highlight everything that was wrong (there is clearly a culture of disregarding fire safety at that place) so that it could be improved, and re-assess after a period of time. Noooo…. I’m just naive. Apparantly the whole point is (and I quote) to “get a nice, clean risk assessment.”

Now, I’m no big fan of Elven Safety (shoot the buggers), in fact, in my ideal world, there would be no HSE and matters of safety would be negotiated between (non-political) unions and the owners/managers, for everyone’s benefit. Dangerous workplaces are bad for everybody concerned (bad publicity etc. as well as wellbeing of employees) but one-size-fits-all government-issued policies are simply too cumbersome. I’m not allowed, for example, to use a stanley knife, I’m supposed to use a ‘safety knife’ which is so awkward that, in my estimation it is actually more dangerous to use! I don’t see why I cannot decide for myself if I am safe to use a knife, and take the risk myself, if you see what I mean.

But I digress. What’s the point of having these rules, forms to fill in, and boxes to tick, if the whole point is not to make everyone safer but simply an end in themselves? Fire isn’t a knife. The worst I could do with an knife (accidentally) is gash myself open. Conceivably I could bleed to death, but that’s about it. The worst a fire could do is kill about a hundred people and cost several million, just in damage to the building and contents, before any lawsuits. The company I work for have a very large, open-plan building chock-full of highly flammable items, a fire could work through the place in a matter of minutes (literally) and any blocked fire escape or escape route IS going to cost someone their life, as well as being hugely bad for business, so even in a HSE-free world we would have quite an exhaustive fire policy. So why fake it?

It seems the KPI box-ticking target culture is more pervasive than even I realised.

On The Monarchy

One of the commenters at a not-so-recent article (this has been sitting in my drafts for some weeks!) on Samizdata prompted me thinking (once again) on The Monarchy, and led me to wonder what exactly my opinion is on the subject:

Slightly off topic, but in case anybody wants to tell me, are Libertarians in principle anti- monarchy?

Posted by bendle at May 12, 2009 10:21 AM

I have swung between monarchist and republican viewpoints throughout my life, and as I have been occasionally using my blog to help me crystallise my thoughts on various subjects I thought I might benefit from doing so here.

There has been much talk recently about the Queen’s power (and duty) to dissolve Parliament in times of crisis in that house, and whether she can be petitioned to do so. I do believe that this is an important part of our constitution, and as I have explained in a previous post I do not neccesarily believe in democracy as a be-all-and-end-all, so I have no problem with a person inheriting this power although it is obviously not a perfect way of doing things. It is important that somebody outside the government of the day has that power and unless an alternative can be posited (perhaps enshrining a referendum-of-no-confidence in the constitution or something, so the citizenry have that equal power?) it’s the best thing we have. In the same way I am not against the House Of Lords being unelected, as it acts as a sort of smoothing capacitor on the current bunch of crooks in the lower house, preventing any one group from getting too much power, or at least it should.

One of the main disadvantages that have swung me to the republican side in the past, is the question of what happens if the monarch is, to put it politely, incompetent? In a system based on an inherited title, where the next holder is predestined then there is obviously the risk of getting saddled with some sort of pillock for their lifetime. While the monarch does not have many powers, their execution of the powers that they do have could be severely compromised and open to outside influence. So what’s the alternative?

Maybe a ceremonial president, with the same limited powers as the monarch, but what would be the point? All the expense of an election, to elect someone who may or may not be suitable for the job based on whatever lies they pay people to write for them in the campaign so they can live the life of riley for some fixed term waiting for a crisis which may or may not occur and then choose whether or not to call an election? It seems like a bit of a waste of money to me. Or a ‘proper’ president? While seperating powers from the executive and the legislature sounds like a good idea in principle, inevitably presidential executives accrue more and more powers over time (just look to the US for an example) and are composed of the same people (or fellow-travellers of) that inhabit the legislature. In addition, an extra layer of government is not something I would be in favour of as I am of the opinion that we have too much government already.

So where does that leave us? Back to a monarch I’m afraid. Getting rid of the head of state entirely would leave us with the Prime Minister as the highest in the land, and I fear that is country we would not like to discover. Having a monarch does have other advantages too. It defines something about our nation and gives us a locus to gather around, “For Queen and Country” has a certain ring to it, making it harder for the people of Britain to feel amalgamated into an EU of supranational regions. Whatever Brussels may choose to call us, we will still be subjects of the Queen (not that ‘subject’ is a term I am comfortable with). It has also been argued that retaining their king allowed Italy to rally around him during WW2 and divest themselves of Mussolini, whilst Germany, having vested everything in Hitler fought to the bitter end. We may find ourselves in a similar position one day, hopefully not soon but who can say? We certainly live in interesting times.

The Socialist Labour Party, The BNP and the EU

I had the (mis)fortune the other day to see a party political broadcast from the Socialist Labour Party, the splinter group from the New Labour Party headed by Arthur Scargill. After I had stopped shouting at the television, I noticed that while most of what they are saying is wrongheaded (they are in favour in re-nationalising everything, even things that have nver been state-owned) the bulk of their ire is pointed -quite correctly- at the EU.

The Socialist Labour Party is totally committed to complete withdrawal from the European Union, or Common Market as it was originally called. That is the only way Britain can begin to regain control of its economy, sovereignty and its political powers.

While their problems with the EU are coming from a completely different direction from those I would consider sane and workable, it led me to wonder about other minority parties positions on the EU.

The British National Party’s position on Europe is pretty clear. They are for withdrawal from the EU although they are not against free trade with it, and they are for rebuilding our ties with the rest of the Anglosphere. On the face of it, not a bad policy. Their other policies? Well, those have been well discussed elsewhere. The UK Independence Party’s policy on Europe is self evident. (There are many smaller parties still, with varying probabilities of political success and varying policies on the EU, such as the National Liberal Party who only advocate complete withdrawal in “extreme circumstances,” and the English Democratic Party who want not only to withdraw from the EU and join the EFTA instead, but also want to leave the UK.) It seems that all of the largest minority parties are in favour of leaving the EU while the Labour/Con/Lib Westminster Consensus parties are all in favour of remaining in. The Conservatives make noises about the Euro (we’d be lucky to get in now!) and they pledge to amend to 1973 European Communities Act and hold a referendum on the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty (if Labour don’t force it on us before an election) but the word ‘withdraw’ does not feature anywhere. The other two’s policies don’t even come as policies on Europe, they are so invested in the project that it seeps through every other policy.

So it seems our choice is clear, in the coming European Elections as a precursor, and the General Election. If we want freedom from foreign bureaucracy and true democracy at home, we can’t vote for any of the current incumbents. We knew that. But the question of who we could vote for is no clearer than ever, although a Parliament composed of many smaller parties with no overall majority (but with one common policy on the EU) could be a very healthy thing indeed.