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 What's New from 2002...

The European Commission is behind the push for regional government in the UK, seeing it as a means of enforcing heavier regulation while maintaining an aura of "democracy".

The 19th British Social Attitudes Survey (BSAS, conducted by National Centre for Social Research) found only 23% favoured it, rising to 28%/29% in the North West/North East. (Remember this if the Government claims "widespread public demand").

57% were openly opposed. However the BBC, which hyped the very suspect March 2002 ORB survey, was very quiet - you would have to look deep into a 'quiz' on the BSAS to see any mention.

English regional government is wanted more by the pro-Brussels politicians than the people. The bad news for them is that public confidence in them is even lower than in 1997, and is steadily dropping.

And CBI leaders accused Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott of misrepresenting their "support" for regional assemblies. CBI deputy director general John Cridland rejected the creation of "expensive talking shops". Earlier in the year, the CBI both regionally [in Precott's home region] and nationally warned that they could actually cost jobs. (Yorkshire Post, 22.11.02)

Regionalism examined

National Centre for Social Research

On 22nd September 2002, 407,000 people supported the 'Liberty and Livelihood' march. Many were concerned about the economic hardship faced by Britain's farmers.

Although we can thank the Countryside Alliance for drawing attention to the problem, their proposed solution - involving reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) misses the point. Although maybe sound on secondary points, the Countryside Alliance paper advocates "The EU must have a strong common and defensible position....".

Speaking in Paris on 29th August 2002, President Chirac rejected 'early reform of the CAP'. Under the terms of our EU membership, France can simply veto any changes and we are left with a mess that was never designed to meet our interests. A situation that has existed before we joined the EEC.

Britain's farmers should not be led down the blind alley of EU reform, but should instead call for a farming policy that meets national needs and makes us more self-sufficient in food. Economic salvation may only be found outside the EU.

A real alternative for Agriculture
- Countryside Alliance paper (PDF file)

Sovereignty web articles on Agriculture.
(See also their Countryside section via 'Journal Index' button).

On 2nd September 2002, the Daily Telegraph reported that the Dutch wanted to bring back the Guilder, complaining that prices have soared since the Euro's introduction.

The Dutch people were originally the EU's keenest supporters of the currency.

A poll, sponsored by a newspaper, TV station and a national institute, targeted equal numbers of men and women from all age groups and backgrounds.

It found that 84 per cent thought that prices had increased. The highest rise was believed to be in food and alcohol prices. Those surveyed believed that grocery prices had risen by up to 44 per cent and clothes by 9 per cent since January.

Of the 4,431 men and women questioned, 98 per cent responded negatively and wished they had the Guilder back. Up to 80 per cent still thought in Guilders when buying food and clothing. A Dutch finance ministry spokesman said a report would be compiled "towards the end of the year" on the surge in the cost of living.

On 4th September 2002, the Times reported a survey by bankers Dresdner Kleinwort DKW that the Euro's introduction had increased price differences across Europe because of rounding up.

The same issue reported Greek shoppers boycotting retailers after 'rounding up' prices contributed to a 15% rise in food prices. Consumer organisations in France, Germany, Spain, Italy & the Netherlands also found 'Euro rounding' price hikes. In Germany, the price of services has been affected, and the Germans refer to it as the 'Teuro', after their word for 'expensive'.

UK Euro Propaganda claims exposed

Euro - 'Bad for Business' section

The News of the World (23.6.02) raised the spectre of the government introducing compulsory ID cards - an excuse being to cut street crime. It is barmy to think that having to own an ID card but show it on demand at a police station will deter muggers and hooligans. "Hope you don't think twice about that one".

A clue as to the real reason might be "pressure on Tony Blair from European leaders at the EU summit in Seville".

This is what we noted last year: After public clamour, Home Office minister Lord Rooker stated that the Government will not introduce ID cards as part of emergency security measures. But how safe are we, as Home Secretary David Blunkett contradicted Lord Rooker - as soon as the Labour Party Conference was over?

On 29.10.01, the introduction of ID cards with fingerprint data for "asylum seekers" was quietly announced, although ITV Teletext also reported that their cards would also become able to "access cash". [i.e. "smart cards"] On 24.10.01, the Home Office claimed to be considering "entitlement cards" rather than ID cards.

Local ID cards did not stop the New York suicide bombing, but denied proper debate, many people have been led by the hysteria to consider them as an option. We need to consider the bigger picture, that shows that the Government has been considering them well before 11th September 2001, and that there are solid EU connections.

The EU has already been pushing for 'smart cards' for all 'European citizens' that might hold several items of personal information.. The government's E-envoy [champion for modernising government by providing services electronically] had already stated (6.7.00) that the UK public may have to accept the use of ID cards if the electronic delivery of government's services is to be 'successful'. You may ask which is the end and which is the means, as in March 2000, the EU regarded 'e-Government' as a priority as part of its 'E-Europe' plan - which was described as a 'political initiative'.
The public consultation ended on 31st January 2003. Thank you for responding.

For the Government consultation documents out 3.7.02 -
Warning: one very large 3.5MB PDF file available

For a BBC review of the News of the World report

Arm yourself with the facts. Click for our fuller article

Europe Day, 9 May, saw the launch of the Government White Paper, cynically titled: "Your Region, Your Choice".

* A key point is that the English public (outside London) are not to be given any say on whether to have regional government full stop. The Regional Assemblies will exist regardless; any choice is purely on whether they should be elected or not!

* The White Paper lets on that there is an EU dimension - "EU policies and legislation will have a considerable effect on many of the matters for which [elected] regional assemblies are responsible". It mentions the European Commission's own White Paper from 2001, but not its view that regional government should be tasked with enforcing even more regulation!

* The British Chambers of Commerce said that regional assemblies would increase bureaucracy and might cost the taxpayer 1.4 Bn. (Telegraph,10.5.02). Philip Johnston added that assemblies could raise up to 25m a year through levies on council tax [i.e. a stealth tax]. He adds that they would also have the power to raise indirect taxes such as congestion charges.

Some 20m of the 25m would be required to cover accommodation and expenses for 25-35 assembly members. (The Daily Mail, 22.5.02, also estimated the Regional Director salary at 93,000 a year).

Click for the Government White Paper

Click for our own review

More articles on Regionalism - and the EU connection

The BBC Charter requires impartial, accurate reporting. It has apparently been disregarded by a recent BBC survey claiming "big support" for English regional Parliaments - and that, overall, just under two-thirds "want" them, rising to over 70% in three 'regions'. Studying the actual documents reveals:

* The BBC did not mention that over 5 in 6 surveyed (84% nationally) were hardly even aware of the issue - they could not recall any discussion or news item on 'regional devolution'. Think: if only 15% had awareness before the BBC telephone poll, maybe someone did some 'prompting' to make them 'want' it?

* Only 9% of respondents related primarily to a 'region' - far more chose their country (49%) or locality (27%). This was represented by the BBC as a '36%' for "Provincial" identity - not the same thing! A spurious connection - unless you're out to promote regionalism.

* Although a string of leading questions then conveniently put ideas into people's heads - such as regional Parliaments offering 'a stronger voice in Brussels or Westminster'. This was billed as "the most popular reason" - 72% said 'Yes' when prompted. However this is immediately contradicted - another figure shows a majority believe that they will be talking shops for politicians and a waste of money. This hardly adds up to burning public desire?

A telephone survey on an unfamiliar topic will just get snap reactions that reflect the way a particular question was put - especially if people are suddenly interrupted at home and questioned on a subject that doesn't especially interest them? The longer and more complex the survey, the greater the temptation to speed through it?

Ironically, the least satisfaction with 'the direction that their region was taking' was found in London - the only English 'region' to have an elected regional Parliament ('assembly'). And - as for the BBC's "big support" - at the end of the survey, only 19% - less than 1 in 5 - were "strongly in favour" of regional Parliaments. 44% were marked as "somewhat in favour", which is very bland, vague and non-committal. That the BBC should have to go to such lengths to hype regionalism shows how weak the 'strong support' must be.

The survey falls short of discussing the 'Brussels' connection. It is interesting that the EU is seeking to foster regional government as a means of introducing even more regulation. 'EU grants' are basically just repackaged taxpayers' money with strings attached. Recipients are obliged to express their gratitude in a public relations exercise even though the small print ensures that 'Brussels' needs override local people's.

With the Government White Paper on regional government expected later in the year, voters will be asked to consider if they want another layer of government. The current (and rising) level of public disillusionment with politics hardly indicates popular demand - in London, only 22% of the electorate supported 'devolution' and 14% voted for the current Mayor.

The Government's refusal to allow local councils to maintain their existing structure begs the question as to what sort of 'choice' voters will be offered?

Voters should consider not just whether they will be able to remove party representatives elected under the proposed proportional representation scheme, and whether a new assembly covering a very large area would really reflect what they want, rather than delivering European Union programmes. A wrong decision might be difficult to undo later, and be remembered as a very expensive mistake.

Reporting: BBC Six O'Clock News; BBC News 24; BBC TV; BBC Online, (21/3/02)
Survey: 'English Regional Devolution Survey', 1-10 March 2002, ORB for BBC
Click for the BBC survey report

More articles on Regionalism - and the EU connection

We did not make these proposals just because of the events of Sept 11th" - European Commissioner Antonio Vitorino (BBC Online, 17.10.01)

A letter from Frederic Forsyth on the EU arrest warrant (Telegraph 17.12.01) said it all. If a British newspaper criticised, say, treatment of British planespotters by the Greeks, its Editor could be extradited abroad and detained for as long as the regional prosecutor or magistrate saw fit.

All that would matter is (1) that the European edition was available in Greece (2) that a suitable "crime" (e.g. 'xenophobia') existed in Greece - no equivalent need exist in the UK (3) one man's personal opinion.

Forsyth concluded "Pretending to combat terrorism, this new measure abolishes* habeas corpus [guarantee of a fast public trial], presumption of innocence, the Magna Carta and half of the Bill of Rights of 1689.

Melanie Phillips also pointed out that the list of crimes included 'corruption' 'computer crime' and 'fraud' (Mail, 15.12.01). Abroad 'fraud' can include simply making careless errors, without intent to deceive. We also note the EU definition of 'fraud' as "any offence against the financial interests of the EU" (Corpus Juris book, 1997)

"Terrorism" is a ground for extradition, but in December EU leaders agreed a catch-all definition - which might cover peaceful but spirited demonstrations. An offence covers 'intimidating' people or institutions, aimed at "seriously altering or destroying their political, economic or social structures".

However BBC Online (3/6.12.01) noted a hitch for the EU measures as Austria, Denmark, Greece, Portugal & Luxembourg all have constitutions or laws that are incompatible with them. These ban the transfer of their own nationals to any foreign jurisdiction.

The Parliamentary debate on 19.11.01 (Anti-Terrorism Crime & Security Bill) contains shocking revelations - that the Commons was being expected to nod through 114 pages of legislation, mostly unrelated to 'Terrorism' - in 2 days. David Cameron MP remarked on the EU angle: "We do not know what we shall be passing into law...".

Although inflicting several defeats on the Government's original proposals, the House of Lords misguidedly let a trimmed set through. In 2002, powers to introduce EU-wide 'terror laws' by secondary legislation [i.e. without a debate and vote in Parliament ] will be introduced in the Extradition Bill, said the Home Office (BBC Online, 7.12.01)

Civil liberties group Statewatch have produced a detailed examination of the arrest warrant, and shown how existing safeguards are to go - including protection against being charged with separate offences, or handed over to a third country. Also immunities such as the 'double jeopardy rule' [over being tried twice].

In the UK there is a separate review of criminal courts ( by Lord Justice Auld. His Report was attacked by Liberty director John Wadham as "a huge attack on the fairness in the criminal justice system - particularly trial by jury, which is its cornerstone" (Independent, 19.10.01)

Recommendation 2.253 plans to admit 'hearsay' as "the best available evidence". Amazing - you could be convicted on rumour in the absence of hard evidence. (We checked if this was the practice is found on the continent - and apparently yes it is!).

Although there is no overt link to EU policy, the Government committed to Europeanising its policies in 1999. The Auld Report uses a quote from fiction to scorn traditional Trial By Jury but talks up 'professional judges' - as found in the continental model.

Lord Justice Laws in the Appeal Court has cast doubts on the legality of the 'Metric Martyrs' convictions, perhaps hinting that our legal rights have been violated? Maybe we should be putting the case - to appropriate audiences - that this attempted 'modernisation' (i.e. 'Europeanisation') is *illegal under the Queen's Coronation Oath when she promised to govern us according to our customs & laws?

Why not protest to the media? (We shall be checking the results of the consultation that closed on 31.1.02. No harm also making your thoughts known to 'Criminal Courts Review', Lord Chancellor's Department, 54 Victoria St, London SW1E 6QW. Or email:

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This page updated: 31 December 2002

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