‘Nightmare’ Nige’s UKIP mavericks could signal another mish-mash UK government

IF I were a betting man – and it’s odds-on I’m not – I’d wager that whatever constitutes the next United Kingdom government, post the General Election of May 7, 2015, it will be another hastily-cobbled coalition.

Labour may currently be a gnat’s nose ahead of the Conservatives, but they’re not dead certs to lead the field a year from now, especially after Finance Minister Osborne’s crafty budget unlocked pension funds and unashamedly played to Lamborghini-lusting wrinklies.

Meanwhile, showtime has kicked off with the warm-up acts slugging it out to determine which also-ran might be a junior partner, should the great British electorate again decide to inflict a plague on both houses of the major parties.

So, last Wednesday, Nick ‘Nicey’ Clegg, champion of the sagging Liberal Democrats, went head-to-head in a TV joust with the United Kingdom Independence Party’s Nigel ‘The Nightmare’ Farage for the second time in a week, keeping the chatterati so abuzz, a 1,000-volt charge could have been thrust up their bleached posteriors.

The BBC debate was fiercer, more cuttingly personal than the previous, LBC/Sky TV  clash, but each produced only one winner – and it wasn’t the crestfallen Deputy Prime Minister.

Many, yours truly included, wondered why a Coalition Goliath like Clegg had thrown down the gauntlet to Farage, a self-styled David and, proudly by his own account, a ‘non-professional’ politico.

So, if it was intended as an exercise in rubbing the underdog’s nose in the doo-doo, it backfired monumentally.

Because hubris did for Clegg as he totally misjudged Farage’s gift of the gab and in both debates the second most powerful man in Britain reeled under a welter of verbal blows, the most withering being the accusation of ‘wilfully lying to the British people.’

The debates’ outcome have further signalled a radical shift in the UK’s political sands.

Even the ‘hung’ parliament of 2010, which gave the Lib-Dems their first a whiff of influence in decades, could be eclipsed by the bonfire of political vanities that threatens.

The cardinal errors the big battalions – Labour as much as Conservative, let alone Clegg’s political harlots – made were a) Trivialising UKIP as swivel-eyed, Little Englander loons [true, some are]; and b) Utterly underestimating Farage’s connect with non-metropolitan have-nots.

NO CONTEST: Nick Clegg (right) and UKIP's Nigel Farage locked in verbal fisticuffs - with 'Nightmare' Nige winning both times

NO CONTEST: Nick Clegg (right) and UKIP’s Nigel Farage locked in verbal fisticuffs – with ‘Nightmare’ Nige winning both times

This emphasises how divorced from reality the elite truly are, with rare exception all too comfy in their Westminster bubble, inured from life in the Siberia of the provinces.

Interestingly, a similar arrogance afflicts the commentariat, as a horde of talking heads demonstrated, disparaging Farage as ‘looking sweaty’ and praising Clegg for appearing ‘ministerial’ in the first face-off.

The YouGuv poll of real people saw it differently: feisty Nige licked lacklustre Nick 57% to 36% first time out, then bested him 68% to 27% in the re-match.

No wonder that snotty scribbler, Yasmin Alibhia Brown, of the fast-fading Independent, demanded furiously the media should be ‘controlled’ in giving coverage to Farage.

If Ms YAB’s remark didn’t smack of neo-Lefty fascism and a curb on free speech more redolent of serfdom than democracy, I don’t know what does.

What her witless ravings echo is how much fear the smiley man with the pint has instilled in the smug mugs, who believe they reign over Britain and Europe by divine right.

As a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Farage is a first-hand witness to the impotence of colleagues and the power wielded by a faceless, ruthless Europratocracy.

He’s utterly dismissive, too, of the unelected cabal of non-entities that rule the European Union (EU) roost, reserving special scorn for Herman Van Rumpoy (anonymous President of the European Council), Manuel Barroso (ineffectual President of the European Commission) and Baroness Ashton (vacuous Foreign Minister), all of whom he dismisses as political pigmies on the world stage.

Irrespective of an artificial currency strangling the Club Med countries, Farage has exposed the EU faultlines and the dire need to restructure the project around its original, core principles of a free-trade Common Market.

BAN NIGE: That's the opinion of neo-Left scribbler and talking head, Yasmin Alabhai Brown

CONTROL FREAK: Neo-Lefty scribbler and talking head, Yasmin Alabhai Brown demands the media should stop publicising the UKIP leader

In Eurosceptic Britain, his damning verdict will undoubtedly translate into votes in next month’s EU polls and UKIP’s nine MEPs are tipped to see their number swell dramatically.

Not that all who’ll vote for the party buy into their message of cutting loose from Europe or to Farage lauding the tyrant Putin for defying the West over Ukraine.

But there’s no denying, after the economy, immigration – and loathed Brussels diktats on the issue – is the most festering sore in British electorate thinking. The reality, though, is the UK opened its door too wide too long ago and the floodtide of Rumanian and Bulgarian incomers Farage predicted hasn’t materialised.

Nevertheless – for now, at least – the country’s voters admire Nige’s chutzpah in putting the frighteners on the vested interests, whose paucity of ideas and personalities is woeful.

The EU polls, then, will be the first chance since 2010 for the people to bash the Westminster clique and they’re practically salivating to register their disgruntlement with the mish-mash Coalition government and Labour’s lamentable opposition

However, General Elections tend to concentrate voters’ minds, so it remains to be seen how much of an X Factor UKIP will pose in a year’s time.

My prediction is they’ll pick up a few House of Commons seats for the first time, come the big day, and those could buy them some say in who holds power.

A greater spectre than Farage’s mavericks, though, looms with September’s vote on Scotland’s independence. And, should Westminster’s worst fears come true, Labour will lose its 41 Scottish MPs, the Lib-Dems their 11, but the Tories only one.

Still, if I were the gambling man I’m not, I’d place a wee wager on the ‘No/Stay Together’ campaign shading it, despite Scottish National Party (SNP) leader, Alex Salmond’s brazen ballot-rigging that allows 16 year-olds to vote, yet bans ex-pat Caledonians south of the border from participating.

Assuming I’m right – that Britain remains a united kingdom and Nige nets a clutch of MPs, plus potential Tory defectors – a successive, ruling Coalition is certainly on the cards.

And I would bet on Squire Cameron and Red Ed Miliband sounding out the UKIP upstart over a pint of Tetley’s best British bitter to see which way his once swivel-eyed loons will jump.

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Meddling Euro judges should stop making an ass out of the law

IN all probability you’ve never heard of Iulia Motoc, Ganna Yudkivska, Ineta Ziemele or Päivi Hirvelä, though you might guess they’re targets for top soccer clubs during this January’s transfer window – except all are female.

I could add a further 43 names and you’d be none the wiser. Nor would it help if I said Iulia is Rumanian, Ganna hails from Ukraine, Ineta is a Latvian and Päivi’s a Finn.

‘So what’, you might say dismissively. ‘They’re nothing to do with me.’

But how wrong you’d be. Because they have much to do with you – and the 733 million others populating our continent – in everything from how you work, who you rub shoulders with, what you buy, even to what opinions you choose to air in public.

In fact, in some respects, they are higher and mightier than all the prime ministers, presidents and parliaments in Europe put together.

What’s more, they’re answerable to no-one, because they are judges at the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), ostensibly the arbiter of last resort for disgruntled citizens to bring their governments to heel.

However, just as the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, so, is the ECHR. And it threatens to become such a judicial blight on almost every nation falling within it remit – which means most of us – serious concerns are being voiced as to whether it’s become too big for its boots.

Historically, the ECHR was the lovechild of the Council of Europe, formed in 1950 with the laudable intention of never again tolerating a regime as homicidally racist and wantonly thuggish as the Nazis.

Three years later the European Convention of Human Rights was drafted and in 1959 the Court constituted, with signatory states, including Britain, appointing judges, who – way back then – were mainly there for the kudos.

Each member nation still retained its own laws and the ECHR was chiefly hailed as an triumph of emerging, pan-European political goodwill rather than an instrument of judicial meddling.

CAUGHT OUT: The European Court of Human Rights comes under fire for some of its 'judicial frolics'

CAUGHT OUT: The European Court of Human Rights comes under fire for some of its ‘judicial frolics’

Until, that is, in their addled wisdom, Brussels Europrats decided that applicants to the EU – which operates the extraneous European Court of Justice – had to join the Council of Europe, thereby kow-towing to the primacy of the ECHR.

In theory the motives to protect and enhance human rights are noble, especially in regard to former Soviet bloc satellites; in practice, however, it has led to some gross violations of individual national rights.

Deep misgivings have also emerged about some appointees to the Strasbourg bench being novices and/or harbouring personal, prejudiced social and political agendas.

As an ECHR official privately admitted, ‘Around half the judges had no judicial experience before going to the Court, which means it’s no surprise they go off on judicial frolics of their own.’

So it matters little that countries – like Britain – with long, democratic histories, have evolved legal systems far superior to the upstart Europeans, whose often quirky rulings can beggar belief.

Probably nothing better illustrated Strasbourg’s ability to make an ass of itself when it rode, roughshod, over UK justice in the cases of hook-handed hate preacher Abu Hamza – who used the ECHR for years to block attempts to deport him to face terrorism charges in the USA – and the equally abhorrent Abu Qatada, wanted in Jordan.

The Euro judges also have other, festering bees in their non-existent wigs, firstly accusing Britain of ‘human rights abuse’ by denying criminals the vote while they’re in jail.

In a sane world it’s not unreasonable that convicts forfeit privileges enjoyed by law-abiders. And their incarceration certainly shouldn’t extend to the liberty of scratching an X on a ballot paper any more than good behaviour should earn them a week’s knees-up in Magaluf.

This time, however, Strasbourg’s arrogant twaddle is meeting with fierce hostility, not just from UK politicians, but the country’s judiciary.

Former Lord Chief Justice Judge recently stated his learned opinion that no judges should have the power of the ECHR and the Court wasn‘t ‘entitled to tell every country in Europe how to organise itself’.

DEPORATION DODGER: For years hate preacher, Abu Hamza, used the ECHR to avoid terror charges in America

DEPORATION DODGER: For years hate preacher, Abu Hamza, used the ECHR to avoid terror charges in America

While applauding the Human Rights Convention – largely written, as he pointed out, ‘by British lawyers for a war-torn, concentration-camp filled continent’ – the former law lord seriously questioned how Euro judges interpret it.

‘I think it [the Human Rights Act], means you take account of, have regard to [European rulings], but it does not mean we are bound by the decisions. My very strong belief is that this issue needs to be resolved by Parliament,’ he told Radio 4’s Today programme.

The second collision between Britain and the ECHR regards current English law that allows judges to impose ‘whole life’ tariffs, effectively sentencing a criminal to die in jail.

Strasbourg’s opinion is such sentences are a breach of the Human Rights Convention, because there was no possibility of a ‘right to review’.

That ruling therefore means at least one serial killer has avoided a whole-life sentence and opens the door for others to follow, completely ignoring the human rights of victims and their families.

Meanwhile, 61 years is a long enough stretch for any convention to exist unchanged, especially since it authors couldn’t foresee challenges ahead, like the threat posed by international terrorism.

Left unchecked, then, the Euro judges are free to impose their alien legal system on EU states and humiliate national governments, whose laws may be far more in lockstep with modern-day justice.

But, because the ECHR is the Council of Europe’s legal battering-ram, any member country found in contempt of its ‘judicial frolics’ could find itself an EU outcast.

As ECHR President, Dean Spielmann, warned, ‘I can hardly see how a member of the European Union could possibly withdraw from the Council of Europe. From a political perspective it might be very difficult to stay in the European Union.’

Of course, it would be simpler for the UK government to cave in and give serving cons the vote.

But, somehow, the notion of the likes of Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, and Gunner Lee Rigby’s killers enjoying the freedom to cast a ballot doesn’t sit easily with most Brits, a view backed by Prime Minister, David Cameron, who said the prospect made him ‘physically sick.’

So, maybe, it’s time to put the ECHR in its own dock – and judge whether its absurdities are bringing the law into disrepute.

Because, on the evidence so far, it is certainly guilty of putting the civil liberties of a few ahead of the human rights of the many.

Cyprus, the mouse that roared, is still no pipsqueak – even after the EU’s bank heist

Way back in the mists of cinema history – 1959 to be precise – there was a spoof movie whose plot might just have provided the answer to cash-strapped Cyprus. Plus, it could also have sent a reassuring message to other Club Med Eurozone members on their uppers, their populations incandescent with rage over force-fed austerity.

Based on a book by Irish-American writer, Leonard Wibberley, and starring Peter Sellers, The Mouse That Roared chronicled the tale of the miniscule European duchy of Grand Fenwick when it was hit by a financial tsunami.

With its tiny economy almost entirely reliant on Pinot Grand Fenwick wine – read that as a metaphor for today’s banking – the country suddenly faced ruin when a US winery made a knockoff version of the highly-quaffable plonk.

The medieval micro-state, its 20-man army equipped with longbows and arrows, had but one recourse…to declare war on America, pray for instant defeat and trouser the largesse Washington usually doles out to those it has vanquished (e.g. the Marshall Plan for Germany following World War II).

So far, so good. Except it all turns turtle when the pauper duchy accidently defeats the mighty superpower and stumbles on control of the ‘Q-bomb’, a doomsday weapon capable of destroying mankind.

Naturally, in the world of wacky movies, all’s well that ends well; Grand Fenwick loses the conflict…and wins the moolah.

CYPRUS TAKE NOTE: The 1959 movie that showed how to take on a super power, lose...and win

CYPRUS TAKE NOTE: The 1959 movie that showed how to take on a super power, lose the war…and win the moolah

Fast-forward 50-plus years and, with nowhere to run to find financial succour, Cyprus played an audacious, Mouse That Roared card and took on the clunking fist of the EU in a poker game over bail-out terms for its banks relatively huge toxic debt.

However, unlike Grand Fenwick, Cyprus (population: 700,000 and dwindling) didn’t stand a snowball in Hades chance of plucking victory from the jaws of defeat. Because German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble – a man who could start a fight in an empty room – were never going to dip into their tax-payers’ wallets, especially in an election year.

Despite Germany’s financial might only required to back-stop a European Central Bank-EU-IMF (a.k.a. the Troika) loan approaching €10bn to the blighted island, it was time to set a brutal example to all Club Med beggars and crack the whip, even if it confirmed (once again) the Eurozone isn’t fit for purpose.

So, if Cyprus railed over the hardball terms being dictated, the door marked Exit, Ausgang or Salida beckoned to bankruptcy, irrespective of the EU’s Alcatraz rules that once in, there’s no escape.

This was the Euro superpowers’ revenge for feckless bankers having the audacity to set up an off-shore tax-haven paradise on the tiddler island…a money laundrette for washloads of filthy lucre (€18bn by some accounts), dropped off by Russian oligarchs wanting more bangs for their buck – or rather rouble – and no questions asked.

Then, to compound their monumental folly and displaying quite staggering disregard for due diligence, the Cypriot whizkids showered an avalanche of euros on iffy on Athenian junk bonds, which sank when the vacuous nation’s gravy train hit the buffers (Moral: beware of Greeks seeking gifts).

So, like their busted flush neighbour before it, Cyprus took its begging bowl to Brussels, with the implied threat that if you don’t underwrite our debt, we’ll upset the EU applecart.

However, the response was predictably draconian or, to paraphrase a fox-hunting analogy, the ruthless in pursuit of the potless.

BANK ROBBER: Hard-up Cypriots blame Germany's Angela Merkel for their misery, as this satirical ATM image shows

BANK ROBBER: How hard-up Cypriots satirically portray Germany’s Angela Merkel on their ATMs

Spurred on by a Germany for whom the Eurozone is fast becoming a jigsaw of Teutonic provinces, the Brussels bullyboys (Motto: take a sledgehammer to crack a nut) exposed themselves – once again – as crass, anti-democratic, bean-counting thugs.

And, to stamp their authority with maximum savagery, they demanded not only an end to Cyprus’s dodgy tax laxity, but depositors become victims of blatant bank robbery to help stump up nearly €6bn.

This will be achieved via a 40% haircut (scalping more like it) for those with over €100K in one dubious bank and the total annihilation of another. Plus, there’ll be ‘temporary’ controls to stop capital flight – another pillar of monetary union conveniently disregarded – though most of the dirty money has already flown.

The net result is that no-one comes out of this smelling of attar of roses. The EU is exposed for what it is – a wannabe super-state without a grain of compassion for its hoi-polloi; and Cyprus, an omnishambles of Byzantine idiocy, is to be the template for any other uppity lot misguided enough to believe it’s still a sovereign nation (Club Med+Ireland take note).

My guess, though, whatever arm-twisting deal was cobbled together, we’ve not heard the last of the Eastern Mediterranean mouse and how it cheesed off the EU (sorry, couldn’t resist that pun).

So the fear of contagion lurks and not a day goes by without me hearing folk voicing similar distrust of the Troika’s heavy-handedness, despite Spain’s finance minister assuring investors it can’t possibly happen again.

Why not? Even with depositor guarantees of €100,000, if the ECB – supposedly the milch-cow of last resort – cocks a snook at Cyprus, for all its profligacy, which Eurozone politician can predict with any certainty no more cruelty will be meted out to purge ungodliness from the sainted euro paradigm?

However, Cyprus may have more room for manoeuvre than Brussels imagines.

Having propped up the island with a €5bn inter-government loan, Moscow is livid at being locked out of rescue talks in what it perceives as an EU snub. And now it is muttering darkly about pay-back.

This, then, could be the trigger for woebegone Cypriots to pull, because they have two prizes Vladimir Putin muchly desires: Russian exploration rights to a natural gas field Cyprus is developing with Israel and the potential to be a new base for its Mediterranean fleet if the Syrian port of Tartus is lost, come Bashar al-Assad’s downfall.

And writing off a €5bn loan – mere loose change – is no hardship for an economy swimming in petro-dollars.

Moreover, the geopolitical implications of Cyprus falling further under Moscow’s sway could be dramatic. The EU’s third smallest nation could not only afford to shun the euro and return to its old Cyprus £ – as one of its ministers threatened – it could deliver a strategic uppercut to the West’s sphere of Middle East influence and threaten the British army outpost at Akrotiri, one of NATO’s pivotal monitoring stations.

With Greece already deep in hock to the expansionist Chinese, who own the deeds to the port of Piraeus, and the Moscow-Beijing axis strengthening, Cyprus may provide the key to unlocking greater riches than its emptying bank vaults.

If that happens, the smart alecs who dictate EU tyranny may well rue the day they put the screws on the tiny Eastern Med mouse with the temerity to roar.

There’s nothing Nobel about the pseudo-democratic EU

Congratulations all round! My cup runneth over, because, like all other residents – I hesitate to employ the word ‘citizens’ in this context – of the European Union, I’m a five-hundredth million of $1.2-million better off.

So overflowing are my coffers, I can’t even be bother working out the exact amount, but guess it might buy me a used matchstick if I’m lucky.

It’s all thanks to those generous, if a smidgeon superior, Norwegians – you know, the ones who spawned the mass-murdering, Right-wing fanatic, Anders Breivik, and a rather creepy ‘statist’ society that’s swimming in petro-dollars and educates its kids to be altruistically socialist.

For it is in the gift of the kindly Norwegians to dole out the Nobel Peace Prize, which I’ve always thought a bid odd, since Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite and philanthropist extraordinaire, was Swedish.

Anyway, that’s a by the by. What’s important is they’ve given the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU, presumably because they scraped the bottom of the barrel of potential candidates, couldn’t find an outstandingly goodly person to bestow it upon, and all that was left among the dregs was us (well, by us, of course, I mean the EU as an institution).

NOBEL BIG NOB: Barosso, the Commision President, receives the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the EU

If it wasn’t so bizarrely farcical, it might be funny – a snide jape from a patronising country that’s semi-detached from the unelected Brussels Europrat elite (an even snottier lot than the Norwegians) at a time when the Eurozone is imploding financially and dragging the rest of the world down Skid Row with it.

Nevertheless, exalting the EU, the Nobel citation reads, ‘for [having] over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe’.

Fine sentiments, if only they were accurate.

So let’s deal with the ‘peace’ bit first: the EU didn’t sort out the vicious, internecine punch-up on its own doorstep in the former Yugoslavia (remember a contingent of 400 Dutch EU/UN peacekeeper looking the other way when around 8,000 Muslims were massacred in Srebrenitca?); NATO did the dirty work, with massive US help.

Nor did the EU patch up the long-standing animus between Germany and France. They achieved peace themselves in the 1950s, initially via the European Coal & Steel Community, the Common Market’s forerunner.

Now to ‘reconciliation’: not much sign of that within the massed ranks of demonstrators in Greece, raging with indignation over EU bean-counters forever twisting the screw of austerity tighter. Certainly German Chancellor Angela Merkel deserved to be ashamed on her recent visit to Athens and not merely at seeing her face superimposed on a Nazi uniform in a forest of placards hoisted by the hungry and homeless.

INVITATION TO A RIOT: Anti-austerity demonstrators vent their anger on the EU in Athens

And watch this space when Spain is forced to proffer the begging bowl, as it must surely do with unemployment running at around 25% and over 50% of its youth – the nation’s glorious future – jobless and hopeless. So if you imagine the riots in Madrid were just worth a ribbon of tickertape at the foot of a 24-hour news channel screen, as they say in Hollywood, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Next, let’s examine ‘harmony’: Scottish and Catalan nationalists want to break away from their respective countries, though I firmly believe Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, is living in a tartan Cloud Cuckooland if he thinks the Scots are that gullible.

As regards Catalonia, already one of Spain’s most autonomous regions, they’ll be breaking the country’s constitution if they rush for a unilateral declaration of independence and, as even King Juan Carlos warned, the consequences could be dire.

Then there’s‘ democracy’. Or, more precise, the veneer passing for it – one, incidentally that’s likely to be shattered totally after the award of the Peace Prize, because that will be seen as a green light by power-crazed Europhiles to forge further ahead with their lust for a centralised, single nation state of Euroland.

If so, to paraphrase a hotly-contested expression said to have been used against a policeman by the British government’s (now ex) Chief Whip recently, it’ll be ‘sod the plebs’, only more so.

Because the unpalatable reality is we have an anti-democracy in the EU. What exists, instead, is a bunch of appointees – one per member state – ruling as satraps…like the UK’s Baroness Cathy Ashton, the anonymous Foreign Minister, a Belgian hologram named Herman Van Rompuy as President of the European Council and Portugal’s unctious ex-Prime Minster, Jose Manuel Barroso, as President of the European Commission.

Did you vote for any of Europe’s ringmasters? No, neither did I. And, such is democracy in the EU, a great many residents of its member countries never had a say in the many complex treaties binding the gravy train tighter together.

As a sop to the hallowed name of democracy, however, we have Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), who are elected every five years. Can you name yours, by the way? No, neither can I.

It doesn’t actually matter if you could, because the 736 of them are practically powerless, yet extremely adept at piling up immense personal expenses and voting for inflation-busting rises to their annual stipends, currently a basic €92,000.

What does matter, though, is that no independent auditors have been prepared to sign off the EU’s books for 15 years and it’s highly unlikely one will do when the budget rises to an estimated €150.9-billion for 2013.

Finally, allow me to sum up the EU’s quirky vision of ‘human rights’ in one rhetorical question: Where were the people of Britain’s human rights as European courts rode roughshod over UK law for eight years on whether evil, hook-handed, preacher of hate, Abu Hamza, could be deported to face terrorist charges in America?

So much, then for ‘reconciliation’, ‘harmony’, ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ in the Nobel laureate-anointed European Union, a wannabe superstate few signed up to when they voted in favour of a free-trade Common Market.

Meanwhile, I’m off to spend my entire five-millionth of the Peace Prize moolah. Anyone got a used match they want to flog?