EU Tyranny: New Law against Democratically Dismantling EU from Within

It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.

A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents “anti-Europe.”

More…

Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning. Musing on the £1.7 billion bill that the EU has passed to Britain in his sketch, Michael Deacon decides: “They want Britain to leave. That has to be it.” The PM came close to agreeing yesterday. The affair is “not a good development” for people trying to argue that the European Union is “capable of reform”, Mr Cameron said.

“We are not paying a sum anything like that,” he continued. “So now we knew,” quips Ann Treneman in the Times: “Britain was like, sort of, kind of, not going to pay anything nearish or even more-ish.” You’ll open a “Pandora’s Box” warns Jacek Dominik, the departing EU commissioner, which could even end up with Britain losing its EU budget rebate. It could go a bit further than that, says Nick Watt in the Guardian: “a toxic mix of an impending Ukip victory…combined with some deeply unhelpful developments in the EU, are forcing the PM to adopt ever harder positions”. It could end up with Mr Cameron ending up arguing for a European exit in 2017.

He’ll worry about that tomorrow. As Ann Treneman puts it: “Dave now fears only those who sit behind him. All he says is for their ears only”. The official Opposition did rather well yesterday thanks to a letter from Nicky Morgan in March showing that the Treasury was aware of the possibility of a big bill some months ago. The Sun’s not sold, though. “Who cares if a few officials in Whitehall knew months ago we would be slapped with a £1.7 billion invoice?” their leader asks. “We all know how Miliband would react to a shock £1.7 billion EU bill: by writing out the cheque. Credit to Cameron that he hasn’t.”

That’s as maybe, but the problem is that it has awoken the old fears on the government benches about the PM’s tendency to drift into crisis, and it’s making both the Eurosceptics and the Europhiles antsy. Frankly the ongoing debate about whether Britain is swamped, deluged or merely lightly spattered with immigrants may well do more for Ukip’s chances in Rochester than any bill, no matter how outrageous it may be. The prospects for exit, however, may be rather stronger than the polls suggest.

FORBID THEM NOT TO COME UNTO ME

Politicians must choose their language carefully and “not treat immigration as just a deep menace that will overwhelm Britain,” the Archbishop of Canterbury warned yesterday, suggesting that inflammatory rhetoric was leading to an increase in racial tension in communities. David Blunkett appears to have missed the memo.”Blunkett: Migrants Really Are Swamping Parts Of UK” is the Mail’s splash. The former Home Secretary has ridden to Michael Fallon’s rescue in a column for today’s Mail. Eastern European immigration to his constituency has caused “a host of difficulties” including increased waste collection because of houses of multiple occupation, exploitation of migrants by rogue landlords, and “the gathering of large groups in the streets”.

THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA

Britain will not support any further search and rescue operations to prevent migrants drowning in the Mediterranean, the Foreign Office has announced. It’s believed that the rescue operations encourage others to attempt the dangerous crossing, actually endangering more lives than it saves. But Maurice Wren, chief executive of the British Refugee Council, is not convinced. “Boarding a rickety boat in Libya will remain a seemingly rational decision if you’re running for your life and your country is in flames,” he tells the Guardian.

JIM MURPHY’S MOMENT?

Gordon Brown as well as two rising stars of Scottish Labour, Jenny Marra and Kezia Dugdale, have ruled themselves out of contention for the leadership, while Anas Sarwar, the deputy leader, has also confirmed that he will not be standing. It looks like a straight contest between Neil Findlay from the party’s left and Jim Murphy, who is expected to declare his intentions later today. The election will be decided by Labour’s electoral college; one third MPs and MSPs, one third members, and a third from “affliates” (that is, trade unions, councilors and various groups like the Scottish Fabians). Pressure is growing on Mr Sarwar to announce that he, too, will stand down, in order to allow an MSP to take his position.

DAVE’S CLOSE SHAVE

David Cameron’s protection officers are under fire – not like that – after allowing Dean Farley, a jogger, to run into the PM yesterday, seemingly shoving him.  “It Could Have Been A Terrorist” squeals the Mirror’s splash. “What if this man had been carrying a knife?” the Mail frets.

REDUNDANCY, REDUNDANT

Highly paid government officials will be stripped of their redundancy payments if they are subsequently rehired, the government will announce today. Under new legislation, individuals earning more than £100,000 who take a new job in the same part of the public sector within a year will have to repay all or part of their redundancy package. The law will apply to local government civil servants and NHS workers but not to the Armed Forces, the BBC or the Bank of England, Steven Swinford reports.

ANARCHY IN THE UK

Terrorists will use Britain as a bolthole if MPs vote to pull out of the European arrest warrant, the security services have warned. Mark Field, the MP for Cities of London and Westminster, said: “The security services have made a pretty compelling case that we do need to opt back in. There are jihadists from Europe and if we are the weak link in the chain, the risk is some of them would come to the UK and go to ground.” But Jacob Rees-Mogg has accused the Home Office of giving “inaccurate briefings” about the risks of opting-out.

SEXIST BRITAIN

The UK’s gender gap has continued to widen, according to a World Economic Forum report. Britain has slipped out of the Top 20 countries, falling from 18th to 26th in the annual Global Gender Gap report, its lowest overall score since 2008. When the league table began in 2006, the UK was ranked ninth.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER?

Ukip activists took a break from campaigning for Mark Reckless in Rochester & Strood to take a picture with Britain First activist Jayda Fransen, the far right party. “Our policies are very similar to Ukip’s, in fact they almost mirror them,” Ms Fransen said. Ukip disagree. “We have no connection with Britain First and reject any association with them,” a spokesman told BuzzFeed, “A mistake of this nature will not happen again.” The activists in question have had the error of their ways explained to them, the spokesman continued.

Metropolitan Opera Stifles Free Exchange of Ideas about a Propaganda Opera

On Monday night I went to the Metropolitan Opera. I went for two reasons: to see and hear John Adams’ controversial opera, The Death of Klinghoffer; and to see and hear what those protesting the Met’s judgment in presenting the opera had to say. Peter Gelb, the head of the Met Opera, had advised people to see it for themselves and then decide.

More…

Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning. The flags have been lowered, the soldiers are coming home. The UK’s main base, Camp Bastion is being closed down and British withdrawal from Afghanistan is almost complete. “Quietly, the long war ends” is our take. In Helmand, Holly Watt witnesses the coming down of the flags of the US, the UK and Nato. It all feels too familiar to Tom Newton Dunn, who recalls a similar journey to Basra in 2009. “Then, as now, platitudes spilled forth from top brass and politicians,” he writes in today’s Sun: “We leave Afghanistan in the same way, prematurely, with a decision that has everything to do with politicians’ electoral cycles and almost nothing to do with the war on the ground.”

“It’s hard to remember,” James Kirkup notes, “but before Britain’s Iraqi adventure went so far off course, interventionist foreign policy was effectively the political norm.” Now, “Out At Last”, the Mirror’s splash, probably best typifies the war fatigue that has come to dominate politics in the West. But if it’s the Mirror that highlights the mood it’s the Mail that captures the fear: “Not A Trace Left Behind” is the headline. The memorial to the British dead – 453 in all – at Camp Bastion will be taken down is the inspiration, but the wider concern is that for all the money spent and the lives lost, Afghanistan will fall back into the Taliban’s hands and it will have all been for nothing. The Times weighs up the success and failures: life expectancy up from 50 in 2000 to over 60 today, the first democratic transfer of power in that nation’s history, but a threefold increase in the Opium Trade and a country joint-last with North Korea and Somalia in Transparency International’s corruption index.

In his column today, Con Coughlin fears that this will be the last hurrah for the British Army. A combination of war fatigue and fiscal retrenchment – neither the Government or the Opposition has committed yet to maintaining the 2% of GDP target that comes with Nato membership after the election – means that Britain increasingly lacks the ability, much less the inclination, to act on the world stage. Good, says John Prescott in the Mirror: “being the world’s policeman carries a heavy price and does not justify the heavy loss of lives”.

But as we’ve seen in Syria, inaction is also a decision with bloody consequences; and, as a result of our decision to stay out of that country we find ourselves back in Iraq five years after we said “never again”. Could we end up embarking on a fifth Afghanistan war sooner rather than later? As Tom puts it in the Sun: “I deeply wish I could say we’re not facing another déjà vu on disaster. But I can’t.”

ALAS, POOR JOHANN

“Labour Plunges Into Civil War” is the Scots Mail’s splash. Johann Lamont has resigned as leader of Scottish Labour and she’s kicked off a bitter war of words between the Scottish party and its cross-border cousins. Ms Lamont’s parting shot – that Ed Miliband treated Scottish Labour like “a branch office” is having reverberations. Two former Labour First Ministers, Jack, now Lord, McConnell and Henry McLeish, are demanding that Mr Miliband give up all control over the Scottish party, blaming his “foolish” intervention in the 2011 Holyrood election campaign and his “continual mistakes” as leader for Scottish Labour’s travails. (Ben Riley-Smith has the story.)

As one usually anti-Miliband insider noted to me last night: “It’s the typical ‘victim mentality’ from Scottish Labour. It’s not as if the problems there started in 2010.” The real problem is that Gordon Brown’s popularity north of the border papered over the cracks at the last general election; and with Ed Miliband no better liked in Scotland than in England, it’s up to Scottish Labour to win the day in 2015 in its own right. Oh dear.

SWAMPED

“Migrants row leaves Tories in disarray” is the Guardian’s splash. Michael Fallon’s remarks on yesterday’s Murnaghan that some British towns are “swamped” with immigrants while other parts are “under siege” contrasted with Liz Truss conceded on the BBC that migrant workers are essential to the UK agricultural industry. The word “swamped” is also felt to have an unhappy history. “I’d never use ‘swamped’ in this context,” said Ukip’s deputy chairman, Suzanne Evans. Downing Street clarified the remarks, saying that he should have said “under pressure”. But not everyone feels that the remarks were poorly chosen, with Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough, tweeting: “Fallon absolutely right to use the word “swamped” about “some” immigration hotspots despite what teenage spin doctors at No 10 might say.”

HAIL TO THEE, JIM MURPHY?

Can Jim Murphy, still on a high from his referendum heroics, turn Scottish Labour around? That the Labour left is already stepping up its anti-Murphy campaign – Owen Jones gives him both barrels in today’s Guardian – shows that he won’t be able to take the leadership without a fight. Much hinges on what Anas Sarwar, the current deputy decides. It’s no longer sustainable for Mr Sarwar to remain as deputy and stay in the Commons, as it only underlines the “B-Team” problem that so damages Scottish Labour. But he could choose to give up his N0.2 slot and remain in Westminster, which would allow a unity ticket balancing Scottish Labour’s many wings (left/right, east/west and Catholic/Protestant are the big dividing lines) to emerge. Or he could decide to stand as a candidate in his own right. Meanwhile, the attempts to draft Gordon Brown as a candidate are on in earnest, although the man himself is still dubious about the move. Nominations close on November 4th with the winner announced in December.

YOU KHAN’T SAY THAT

Nigel Farage’s party has been accused of exploiting the misery of Rotherham sex abuse victims in the South Yorkshire PPC by-election after unveiling a poster featuring a young woman and the message: “1,400 reason why you should not trust Labour again”. One victim, now 25, tells the Indy: “People shouldn’t be making such comments and using it to get themselves into high positions. That’s very disrespectful to us victims.” Elsewhere, Naushabah Khan, Labour’s Medway-born candidate in Rochester and Strood, has said that the tone adopted by Ukip and its supporters can be “quite upsetting”, Laura Pitel reports in the Times. “When you say: we blame immigration for this, this and this’, that feels really uncomfortable,” Ms Khan says. South Yorkshire voters go to the polls on Thursday.

THE AMERICANS ARE COMING

David Axelrod – Ed Miliband’s six-figure American hire – has visited the United Kingdom just once since being brought in to repackage Ed Miliband as a potential Prime Minister, and it’s beginning to cause friction within the Opposition. “You cannot spend 300,000 pounds on a press release,” one insider tells Seb Payne, who’s written about the rise and rise of the American political advisor in today’s Washington Post.

EAW YES

Theresa May and Michael Gove are working full stretch to persuade Tory rebels to come around to the European Arrest Warrant, with a dossier of the criminals who would still be at large in the United Kingdom without it. Leaving it could turn Britain into a “honeypot” for criminals, Theresa May says, while former immigration minister Damian Green warns that it would be “really dangerous” to leave the EAW. Liberal and Labour support should be enough to pass the measure but a Tory revolt of over 100 would seriously embarrass the PM.

FRUITCAKES 1 LOONIES 0

Yet more noses out of joint thanks to Nigel Farage. Tom Rowley finds that the Monster Raving Loony Party are low on money and morale, and it’s all Ukip’s fault, apparently. “They’re stealing our thunder,” ‘Mad’ Mike Young says, “They’re coming up with crazy things.”

ISIS prison nightmare: Ex-hostages describe how jihadists tortured captives before beheading them

The hostages were taken out of their cell one by one.

In a private room, their captors asked each of them three intimate questions, a standard technique used to obtain proof that a prisoner is still alive in a kidnapping negotiation.

James Foley returned to the cell he shared with nearly two dozen other Western hostages and collapsed in tears of joy. The questions his kidnappers had asked were so personal (“Who cried at your brother’s wedding?” “Who was the captain of your high school soccer team?”) that he knew they were finally in touch with his family.

It was December 2013, and more than a year had passed since Foley vanished on a road in northern Syria. Finally, his worried parents would know he was alive, he told his fellow captives. His government, he believed, would soon negotiate his release.

More…

Egypt cancels Hamas-Israel talks following Sinai attack

Dashing Hamas hopes of a détente with the Egyptian regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt closed its borders to a high-ranking Hamas delegation to talks with Israel on Sunday, accusing Palestinians of involvement in a deadly terror attack in Sinai Friday. The Hamas delegation had been set to resume indirect talks between the Palestinians and Israel over a long-term Gaza ceasefire on Monday, but those talks were canceled.

More…

Austria: Civil Law vs. Sharia Law

The Austrian government has unveiled a sweeping overhaul of the country’s century-old “Islam Law” that governs the legal status of Austria’s Muslim community.

The proposed revisions—which are aimed at cracking down on Islamic extremism in Austria—would regulate the training and hiring of Muslim clerics, prohibit the foreign funding of mosques, and establish an official German-language version of the Koran, among other changes.

The government says the modifications would give Muslims legal parity with other religious groups in Austria. But the leaders of Austria’s Muslim community counter that the contemplated new law amounts to “institutionalized Islamophobia.”

More…