Wednesday, September 17, 2008

600 UK Conservative MPs Get Set To Destroy The EU

Britain is to become a one party state the latest MORI poll indicates. The Conservatives are polling at 52% which in a First Past The Post system amounts to effective annihilation of all opposition. Electoral Calculus gives the Conservatives just under 500 (493) projected seats with the combined oppositions on just over 100 (130).

In another few months these figures, if they follow trend, will give the Conservatives 600 seats, and the other parties zero - or maybe 30 seats in total.

David Cameron will be the first Prime Minister in history to face no opposition of any kind, except of course his 'colleagues' in the EU, Sarkozy and Merkel, who don't like the sound of Cameron's suggestions for root and branch EU reform.

Another venue where this voting pattern will make waves will be in the EU Parliament where elections are to be held in less than one year in June 2009. Conservative MEPs will be overwhelmingly be sent to Brussels, while Labour and Lib Dem will no longer exist other than as token historical emblems. The only question is will the Conservative MEPs be old style Francis Maude hand-picked agents of European supremacy, or British democrats representing the eurosceptic views of British voters, 85% of whom still want a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, and who would almost universally boot it half way across the Atlantic ocean to sink into oblivion.

It's hard to bother blogging now the dam of political opposition to Europe has so convincingly broken. What is there to tell people, any more? That the EU is a disaster, harmful to the interests of Europeans? Most of them already know that now. In Britain all the people do. Cameron will be the most powerful Prime Minister in British political history. He will also most likely be the key agent of change that unlocks the path of European bureaucratic centralisation, giving the continent the rebirth it so badly needs.

So what is there to write about? Not more about the endless Labour meltdown surely - now 28% behind.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Brussels Wins Temporary Reprieve

The silence here on The Tap continues. Reasons for the pause in output are fourfold.

First I am newly arrived in the Philippines for my third year living here after 'summer' holidays in the UK. I don't yet have a home as I'm in the process of moving. Most time is being spent addressing that situation and catching up with my 11 month old son Charlie, who I haven't seen since June. The change in two months is amazing to behold.

Second my health has taken a leap ahead after sleep apnea and hypopnea was diagnosed while in the UK. I have a CPAP - continuous pressurised air breathing device - and an oxygen concentrator wired into the back of it, which together force me to breathe a high oxygen mix of gases through the night. After one month of use the effects are amazing.

I have a normal amount of energy again for the first time in years, and can plan a normal life. I don't feel like sitting by a PC for hours every day, as the pleasures of playing sport, being out later at night and handling a little work are too much temptation. Blogging, which I took up when housebound from a mystery illness some years ago, seems too dull in comparison - at least for a while until the next phase arrives.

The third reason is the state of politics in Britain and in Europe. I became active in politics in 2000 concerned by the regulation spilling out of the EU and the effects of it on my previously happy working life. Most people had little idea then about the threat from the EU to our freedom and our quality of life, and I felt that I wanted to do something about it. The situation today is far different with the majority more aware of the situation.

Cameron is well on his way to winning power, and the effects of the Irish Referendum are rippling across Europe. The Russians have exposed EU impotence in Georgia to boot. The EU is as serious a threat to liberty and the economy as ever it was, but the difference seven years later is that euroscepticism is becoming an unstoppable force, when it was a fringe activity indulged in by 'fruitcakes' in 2000. We are becoming the mainstream now, but being mainstream has never been my forte.

The war is not won, and I hope to still play a part. The new trans-european anti-Lisbon movement with Libertas allying with UKIP's Farage and maybe the British Conservatives, the Poles and the Czechs is of great interest to observe.

The fourth reason is that now that I live far away from the EU and have got away from all the troubles that it has brought and the ruination it has caused to so many aspects of life in Britain, I selfishly care a lot less than I used to do about it all.

The fifth reason is that being so far from the action I don't meet up with the politicians that I used to see occasionally. And am outside the feed and the inside chat.

Five good excuses are sufficient for now. Once I have an internet connection and a new home it might all change of course! Brussels will no doubt only get a temporary reprieve.

NOTES - my business writings from the 1990s have 'arrived' - and are now part of China's higher education programme on entrepreneurship in business - as well as being used on MBA courses in many other parts of the world, in entrepreneurship modules. I was paid GBP 175 for writing the two articles by Henely management College, that are still sold by Elsevier for $20 a pop to thousands of people every year. The honour of being read is the greater reward, of course.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Slovaks Regret The Euro

(This MAP lifted from a Slovakia tourist website incorrectly includes Czech Republic as well as Slovakia!)

Slovakia has begun its conversion to the Euro. The notes and coins will not arrive until January 1st 2009, but shops are being made to display dual pricing as from August so that customers can get used to the conversion rate. There are one or two problems though.

Businesses employing five or less staff i.e. most shops, don't need to display dual pricing, and of those that employ more than 5, 89% of businesses are not fully complying, as the extra work required to price in Euros as well as Koruna is taking so long.

The government is clearly under strong instructions from 'somewhere' to stop the conversion to Euros from allowing inflation in, and is trying to prevent stores from using it to slide in price rises, as happened across the rest of the eurozone. The fines against any trader successfully convicted of doing that are huge - no less than $245,000 or in effect instant bankruptcy for most Slovak traders, in a country where $600 is the average monthly wage. It will be a hard law to enforce. If prices rise across all stores simultaneously, it will be impossible to establish the guilt of a sole trader.

The other problem is the ludicrously bureaucratic conversion rate - 30.126!! Why the hell the idiots couldn't have made it exactly 30 Koruna is beyond me. The traders have to calculate the conversion every time they have to do dual pricing, most writing them by hand, and those complying are having to work many extra hours. No wonder 89% are not bothering. If they had made the rate exactly 30, it would have helped, but of course the EU would be unable to do anything as simple as that. Such geniuses need everything to be made to look like exact science, when of course, it's not.

30% of Slovaks fear that the introduction of the single currency will lead to higher price rises, despite the government blanketing the country with pro-Euro propaganda. Euro-fear is now a factor of daily life across Slovakia. In Germany and elsewhere where the solidity and certainty of national currencies has been lost, most people soon regretted the move. In Slovakia they seem to be regretting it already.

Information from an AFP Report.

Friday, September 05, 2008

To Save UK Tax, - Keep Breathing

Days away from flying out of the UK after my 'summer' holiday, my mind is on business and sorting out my affairs here.

I sold a bungalow for a good price last month and was waiting for a tax bill assessment on the capital gains. The advice came back - nothing to pay. I have been living overseas for two and a half years, and am no longer considered resident in the UK. Each year this could save me more in tax, it seems, than it currently costs me to live.

Dividends are also tax free as well as CGT. Maybe I will establish some savings at last, after 30 years in business paying tax through the nose every step of the way, and paying off bank loans.

You also need a retirement status agreement in your new country of residence though, for the money you might take there. This I have - an SRRV - special retirees residence visa, which required me to deposit £10,000 with the Philippine Retirement Authority, returnable. Everything you take with you is assumed to be pension income, and is not taxable locally.

Avoiding UK 40% Inheritance Tax however is not so easy. To do that you have to change your domicile as well as your residence, and that, I am told, is almost impossible to do. The only answer it seems on IHT, for now is to keep breathing. Or it will ultimately become necessary to take the hatchet to the empire I built during my working life to fund waste in Whitehall.

This does not seem a good thing for the British economy, where wealth creation based on hard work is generally not highly regarded. If your life's achievements are only to be obliterated once you die, it does raise the question of how much it is worth bothering to build them. I could re-invest in Britain and no doubt will, but considerations about tax will colour my decisions.

If I set up an internet selling company, the accountants are advising me to choose an offshore location to work from, where corporation tax is lower than Britain's. It seems that Britain is highly uncompetitive now as regards tax, with companies heading for the exit as fast as the two million and rising individuals (maybe 4 million more by 2017) who have left since 1997. Britain needs room to breathe if it it is to revive the health of its economy. Right now peoples' chests are being squeezed far too hard.

George Osborne, as Hughie Green would once say, 'For you Opportunity Knocks.'

FINAL THOUGHT - Even better than not having to pay various taxes, the best thing about living abroad is not having to bother with all the 'EU' crap - putting your wheelie bin out on the right day, filling in a form for every thing that moves and everything that doesn't and so on. To experience political and personal freedom again such as Britain enjoyed prior to 1992 and Maastricht, is the real joy. To live as a human, not as a bureaucratic unit. To raise your children beyond the reach of State databases, to be free of idiots who have nothing except forms for you to fill in, to live outside the scope of regulatory quangoised authority, there is no price for it. Saving tax is only the money icing on the freedom cake.

Only outside the EU will Britain become a country worth living in once more. And there seems a fat chance of that happening any time soon.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Britain Is Fun

I'm leaving the UK after my two month long holiday. Doom and gloom are strongly in the ascendant with people depressed about the economy, but it's still a fun place to visit. There is still more sense of humour per square mile in Britain than anywhere else in the world.

Back in Asia, however, the economy is not so depressed, just a little inflationary, but with oil prices coming down, and food supplies a bit better organised, the fast pace of economic growth is expected to resume shortly.

It's good to live in a dynamic part of the world where there is optimism for the future. Britain was like that at one time. Maybe it will be again, once the EU is sent packing. Taxation too needs sorting out. Inheritance Tax at 40% is confiscatory. Not even Communist countries dare to tax their citizens as badly as the UK does.

Italy has no IHT, as is the same in Australia. Spain is now thinking of abandoning it primarily to attract Brits. If Britain seriously wants a dynamic economy again with jobs and growth, it will have to not only dump Labour once and for all, but set out to achieve the most competitive tax regime in Europe.

Otherwise the drift into EU oblivion is assured. I prefer not to be around to witness any more trashing of our once great country.

So it's goodbye to my family and friends. See you all next 'summer'!!! The two abiding memories for me from this one will be Nadal's win at Wimbledon, and Boris Johnson making his speech announcing Britain's Olympic Games, upstaging Gordon Brown in the process. It provided a strong visual image of the Conservative revival.

It's been fun.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The West Must Hold Romania

The weakness of the international responses to Russia's occupation of Georgia is not surprising, given the lack of any military capability to put Russia's armed forces under pressure there. In such circumstances the initiative clearly still lies with Putin as to what will happen next. He has 'gotten away with it' in Georgia, and will be looking at how to press the advantage he has acquired, once the dust has settled.

The Ukraine might well be next as his chosen target, or maybe Moldova, from where Putin would be able to put pressure on the EU directly in Romania. It is most unlikely the West will get itself involved in a conflict over the Ukraine, and Putin knows that in all likelihood he can get on with the job of quietly bringing the country to heel at his leisure. See Ambrose Pritchard Evans explaining why NATO /should will not fight over Ukraine HERE - NATO is not a golf club.

However, were Romania to fall under Russian 'influence' or oppression, that would open up the Balkans and Central Europe, and present some stark strategic choices to NATO and the EU. Romania falling back under Russian control would make the likely future borders between the Russian and Western spheres of influence, a list of countries currently considered to be well within the Western camp.

A glance at the map shows the importance of Romania clearly enough.

The Russians are well aware of it. In the past, they have invaded the country no less than 13 times. The article linked at the end gives the flavour of the relationship between Russia and Romania. Romania is a member of NATO, and a key part of any notional defensive line which exists in the minds of Western leaders.

But what if Putin were to use the Moldova conflict as an excuse to occupy parts of Romania and effectively neutralise it as a country from the Western camp? The world would be shocked, but that doesn't mean it won't or couldn't happen. Without a military challenge to make Putin reconsider, he will no doubt be browsing maps on a daily basis wondering how far he will be able to go before he is checked.

If the West won't 'fight' in Georgia, and won't 'fight' in Ukraine, why would things be any different in Romania? Such thoughts will inevitably be in Putin's mind, and should also be in many other peoples - especially those who consider themselves to be European 'leaders'.

If the EU and NATO are to do anything to stand in Putin's way, and act with any semblance of cohesion, then they should be making it clear now that they will fight over not only Poland (as the USA has guaranteed that it will), but also Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. If the West loses Romania, they will find themsleves holding the line next in Croatia in all probability, with Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all coming under duress from Russian influence.

Serbia would find the EU's occupation of Kosovo crumbling in no time.

Meanwhile as the BBC explains so well, the dithering of EU leaders, which can only be sending Putin 'come hither' signals of the strongest kind, goes on. This must be a very dangerous approach as it leaves it open to Putin to hope that he will 'get away with it' again, until Europe finds herself stumbling towards war. It would be better to make it quite clear where the boundaries lie.

According to BBC Europe Correspondent Mark Mardell, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said that he believes he can use his personal friendship with Vladimir Putin to reason with Moscow. Mardell notes on his blog: “It seems all but decided that there will be no sanctions against Russia. No punishment for the initial invasion, nor for failing to implement President Sarkozy's ceasefire, nor for recognising the breakaway republics. The likely form of words will be that the EU should ‘keep under surveillance its relations with Russia’.”

President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow would sign deals providing military aid to Georgia's breakaway provinces. Georgia says Russia has set up 23 checkpoints "deep within sovereign Georgian territory", manned by more than 900 Russian troops and 73 armoured vehicles.

Moscow still stands alone in recognising the breakaway Georgia territories so far. Venezuela, Belarus and Central Asian states have given rhetorical support but stopped short of recognition. Two other separatist enclaves - Transniestria in Moldova and Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan – have however recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Article - HERE gives background - written with foresight in May 2007 before the current troubles began.