Thursday, January 29

UKIP save Strasbourg seat and help waste €200 million

UKIP are fond of complaining about waste in the EU, but were split on one of the most embarrassing examples - namely, the monthly trek to Strasbourg for four days of plenary sessions.

Written Declaration 75/2008 was launched by the One Seat campaign (which rose to prominence when it quickly gathered over 1 million signatures for its petition calling for the abolition of the Strasbourg seat) following the success of the extra Parliament sessions in Brussels when the Strasbourg Parliament was closed for building work in September.

This issue is gradually gaining prominence. The first Written Declaration (the EP's equivalent of an Early Day Motion) in 2006 got 199 signatures, with the latest getting 286.

It is also a matter where MEPs tend to divide on national lines. Every French MEP refused to sign, as did most German and Spanish. With these three countries having well over 200 MEPs between them, getting a total majority of 393 MEPs to sign a written declaration on Strasbourg (which would then make that the official position of Parliament) is extremely tough.

65 of Britain's 78 MEPs signed the declaration - all of Labour's 19 MEPs, 23 out of 28 Conservatives, 9 out of 11 Lib Dems. UKIP were delightfully split with 5 of their 9 remaining official members signing the declaration with 4 (including their party leader Nigel Farage) against.

The trips to Strasbourg waste over 200 million euros a year. So the next time UKIP go on about EU waste, people should remind them of their sickening hypocrisy.

Wednesday, January 28

Is amiable Godders Bloom helping big tobacco? Surely not....

UKIPs beloved buffoon Godfrey Bloom has made some more unwelcome press lines with this exposé in EU Reporter.

He attempted to help launch the grandly titled World Conference on Prohibition, with the assistance of The International Coalition Against Prohibition (TICAP) - a conference which was, incidentally, banned at the last minute from taking place on European Parliament premises. All well and good you might think - Godders is famously fond of a dram and a ciggie and believes that people have a right to smoke without any government or other interference.

But closer inspection raises some serious questions. One of the key players in TICAP is a pro-smoking group called Fight Ordinances and Restrictions to Control and Eliminate Smoking (FORCES). Bloom and Nigel Farage have also been on trips to the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute, both of which are heavily funded by tobacco giants including Philip Morris, R.J Reynolds and British American Tobacco, and are keen supporters of FORCES.

A little look at the list of speakers is also interesting. Among the expected speakers at the TICAP conference is Dr Gio Gori, a man whose career has, it seems, involved being paid large amounts of money by big tobacco companies, some of which is detailed here. Indeed, back in 1978 when Dr Gori announced that cigarettes could be smoked in "tolerable" amounts without ill effects he was publicly rebuked by the US Surgeon General.

So, should we take a lecture from Dr Gori on "the passive smoking fraud" at face value? Perhaps not.

And what about the wider question: is the seemingly amiable buffoon really a wolf in sheep's clothing? Is his so-called 'libertarianism' genuine, or is there something more sinister to it?

Electoral Commission won't give up on UKIPs illegal donations

The row about whether UKIPs will have to pay back over £360,000 in impermissible donations rumbles on, with the High Court granting an appeal requested by the Electoral Commission.

The case concerns total donations of £363,697 made by a retired bookmaker Alan Bown although he was not on the electoral register.

It seemed as though this case had run its course back in August 2007 when a district judge ruled that UKIP should pay back over £18,000 in inadmissible donations but that the party's breach of the rules was only accidental. If the Electoral Commission, who have pursued this case really strongly, wins the appeal then UKIP will be virtually bankrupt.

Monday, January 19

Godfrey Bloom unites Yorkshire and Lancashire

Lovely to see that while Gorgeous Godfrey Bloom may be against EU co-operation, he is doing his bit to reconcile one of the oldest and bitterest rivalries to divide England: Yorkshire and Lancashire. Bloom, in a statement that will probably surprise both sides of the Pennines (Lancastrians on the grounds that he's not one of their MEPs and Yorkies because he does so little that nobody's heard of him)has apparently now become the MEP for Yorkshire and North Lancashire!

Maybe Godders was recovering from a heavy night out when he sent this one. Or maybe he really does have a new job healing the emnity between England's two great northern counties.

Wednesday, January 7

Godders' new Britain - Let's abolish the minimum wage and bring back wage slavery

The ever delightful and publicity shy Godfrey Bloom took to the airwaves of the Jeremy Vine show over the festive period to proclaim that the national minimum wage should be abolished, adding in true faux-magisterial style that "If I want to employ somebody at £4 an hour that's my business". Fantastic, Godfrey, let's get that Union Jack out and bring back wage slavery!

However, UKIPwatch wonders whether Godfrey did his sums before making this claim. Maybe someone could point out to Godders' that if someone worked a 45 hour week at £4 an hour their annual wage would work out at a fraction under £9.5k before tax (roughly £8,500 after tax). Even Godfrey, as a self-proclaimed expert on all things finance related, should be able to recognise that there is no way anyone can be expected to live on this.

It's also quite a contradiction for Godders, the renowned bon viveur, to suddenly turn into Mr Scrooge. One law for him and one for everyone else, I guess.