Thursday, 19 June 2008

No Means No

I dont really enjoy discussing Europe, mostly because the debate that ensues is so entirely predictable. However the current situation regarding the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty demands comment.

"The Treaty shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Government of the Italian Republic. This Treaty shall enter into force on 1 January 2009, provided that all the instruments of ratification have been deposited, or failing that, on the first day of the month following the deposit of the instrument of ratification by the last signatory State to take this step." (Treaty of Lisbon)

The above being accurate, why on earth is it that ratification is still going ahead in the other countries? It is clear from the above that the Treaty cannot come into force now as Ireland has basically vetoed the Treaty. Irrelevant of the pros and cons of the Treaty itself or of the reasons why they voted the way they did, the Irish voted No dealing a lethal blow to the Treaty and the EU coming up with alternate ways of getting the provisions of the rejected Treaty in through the back door is nothing less than a slap to the face of the voters.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Dear Alistair...

Everyone hates getting spam. Letters you dont want which waste your time and their money, and the only people benefitting being the recycling lobby. Annual inflation has gone up by 3.3% and as it is now 1% above the target of 2%, the Governor of the Bank of England must write a letter to Alistair Darling about it to explain what is to be done to control price rises. Gordon Brown received one in April last year. It is expected there will be a couple of more these. Annual inflation has increased by 0.8% in the last two months alone.

Its a difficult situation because with with house prices falling the BoE has been under pressure to cut interest rates, but balanced against that is the danger of higher inflation leading to a worse impact on the wider economy. They have to wait for the worst to pass inflation wise first before they cut rates. In the meantime theres political damage for the Government.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Local sights

1. Do the police do walks through Dane Park as part of their beats? Last night (around 9.15pm) 4 children were messing about at the redone up playground (not the former tennis court) and sitting on the basketball hoops after climbing up the frame and swearing like troopers at each other. The hoops remain but thats only because they werent heavy enough to dislodge them

2. What were the 19 changes the Council reportedly made to the traffic works at the Victoria Traffic Lights and how late on were they made? It has been said that there will be islands placed between the Victoria Parade and the opposite houses and between the Victoria Pub and Andrew and Jills. Are the islands still to go ahead? It has been quoted that the works will be finished by the end of July. My maths isnt that good but even I can work out that when the second set of dated signs went up, the works were seemingly two weeks behind schedule. Are the works really due to finish by the end of July or is this the time they wish they will finish by? The works are causing serious traffic problems and with the temporary traffic lights moved further away from the junction it's highly unsafe for pedestrians. The temporary traffic lights also run for far longer than before leading to large build ups in traffic.

3. Another sign of trouble on Margate Seafront with the Clock Tower Newsagents up for sale.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

42 days passes

So as everyone knows by now, the Government won the vote on Counter Terrorism by a majority of 9, all of which are Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party MPs.

Roger Gale voted no on all votes whilst Stephen Ladyman voted in favour on all votes.

As Ive said before, the Bill is wrong for a number of reasons. The most important reason to me against the Bill is how Parliament is to be used, in effect acting like a court does, but the judges being made up of the very people who voted the law through. The legislature should never be in this proximity to the judiciary and that is a serious breach of the rule of the separation of powers. The weaker the split between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, the worse it is. They must be distinct from each other to avoid abuse of such powers.

UPDATE David Davis has resigned as Shadow Home Secretary and MP to force a by-election on the issue of 42 days and against the attack on civil liberties that has occured under Labour. He will be fighting as an Independent, without the backing of CCHQ but with the support of his Association. The man's got balls and I applaud him. He is a good man and will hopefully win the by-election.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Six Thanet schools facing closure

Six Thanet schools are part of a Government drive to improve low GCSE scores. St Georges, Hartsdown, Charles Dickens, Hereson, King Ethelberts and the Marlowe Academy score below 30% % 5 A*-C GCSEs and so will have to come up with an rescue plan within 50 days. The 638 schools will have 3 years to meet the 30% target.

My understanding is that schools with low GCSE scores would already be trying to work out what needs to be done well before such an ultimatum is given. Any competent Governing Body would already have started the process of an Improvement Plan in light of their results. They are already under tremendous bureaucratic pressure and this will only intensify this further. The Marlowe Academy is in a rather difficult situation since it has little choice but to do as best as it can without any certainty that it can possibly meet the Government targets. There are a raft of reasons why a school may be having trouble meeting the Government targets and as we can see with the Marlowe, its extremely difficult to shake off the problems. Given the Marlowe Academy is still settling in, its rather harsh to already judge it as failing and to threaten it with closure.

This seems to be a bit of a desperate attempt to look like they are doing something, without any serious consideration of the underlying problems.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

42 days slammed

The Joint Human Rights Parliamentary Select Committee has reported back its findings on the 42 days plans by the Government and gives nothing less than a damning report. It slams the proposed 42 day pre-charge detention saying "we remain firmly of the view that the Government has not made out its case for changing the law to extend the maximum period of precharge detention to 42 days. Our clear recommendation therefore remains the deletion of the relevant provisions from the Bill, as we recommended in our last report."

The report is about as bad as it can get, smashing the Governments proposals to pieces with extremely little for the Government to grab in its defense. Of course the Government will flat out ignore the report as it has done before and bulldose it through Parliament. The report criticises the safeguards pledged by the Government and states clearly that it is in breach of Article 5 of the ECHR (right to liberty). It also criticises the use of Parliament in the process of extending the period of precharge detention, as of course the courts would have to restrict what Parliament would hear.

As Ive said before, this is an appalling piece of legislation which will lead to a number of defeats in the courts straight off the bat. My legal background isnt particularly strong but I know enough about the law to know this Bill would be a nightmare to defend in the courts. I know that Roger Gale will vote against the plans and rightly so. I hope Stephen Ladyman will do the right thing and join him in the No Lobby. I dont expect he will, but I hope he will see through the smoke and mirrors of Jacqui Smith's new safeguards and reject this Bill. After being quoted by Cameron at PMQs yesterday, Stephen Ladyman's list of allies has shrunk somewhat and he should revert to sticking up for the people he serves. Gordon Brown wont save him now.