Wednesday 16 November 2011

Italy: time to declare war?

In recent years, the West has launched military campaigns against dictatorships, or actively encouraged citizens living under such regimes to rise up and overthrow their oppressors.

Yet amazingly, these same Western leaders actively supported the removal of Silvio Berlusconi as Italian Prime Minister, to be replaced by an unelected ‘technocrat’ Mario Monti.

Whatever Berlusconi’s faults - and he had many - he also had a democratic mandate to govern. He may have turned Italy into a laughing stock and economic basket case, but the Italian people knew who and what they were voting for when they elected him.

The new Prime Minister, Signor Monti, has announced that his new cabinet will be comprised of fellow technocrats. Not a single member will have been elected by popular vote. This is an affront to democracy and, given Italy’s not too distant history of dictatorships, a dangerous precedent.

To the unelected and unaccountable EU bureaucracats who are desperately trying to prevent the Euro from collapsing, Monti’s appointment is like manna from heaven. They cannot bear the idea that the voters of Europe, who must now pay for the reckless folly of the Euro zone, should actually have a say as to how to resolve the crisis.

Berlusconi might not be missed on the international stage, but his replacement sends out a chilling message that democracy will no longer be tolerated in Europe. Will David Cameron commit British troops to help restore democracy in Italy, or will he simply roll over like a puppy and do as he is told?

Saturday 5 November 2011

Freedom of Expression, Trotskyite style

Article updated: See below

Don’t Call Me Dave stopped writing blogs about Barnet Council some time ago because (a) it was taking too much time to research stories thoroughly and (b) there were plenty of other bloggers out there doing a far better job. See the panel on the right hand side of this page for a selection. Not blogging about Barnet does not prevent DCMD from posting comments on other blogs when the mood takes him.

All the bloggers welcome DCMD’s contributions, even if they disagree with him, with the exception of Mrs Angry who regularly refuses to publish his comments. The irony will not be lost on readers that in a blog posted today under the title Freedom of Expression: another victory for the Barnet bloggers, Mrs Angry refused to publish one comment from DCMD, published a second and then removed it shortly thereafter.

Mrs Angry’s blog was a commentary on the excellent investigative work by Rog T who had forced Barnet Council to admit that it had lobbied the Information Commissioner in an attempt to silence opposition from local bloggers. The importance of Rog’s exposé cannot be underestimated. It is the first act of a tyrant to try and silence those with whom you disagree. And so it has proven to be the case, yet again, with Barnet’s leading Trotskyite, Mrs Angry.

At this point, dear Readers, you may be wondering what seditious commentary had DCMD tried to post to the Broken Barnet blog? The answer is that he merely pointed out to Mrs Angry that every time he tried to report that Barnet’s chief legal officer Jeff Lustig had signed off the contract to the Underhill sale - a transaction that was subsequently ruled illegal by the High Court - the dear lady refused to publish the comment.

DCMD refuses to believe that Mrs Angry was simply too lazy to read the many public documents relating to this matter which have been published in local and national newspapers (to say nothing of the esteemed Not The Barnet Times blog) for verification of the facts. The simple truth is that the transaction in question took place when Mrs Angry’s beloved Labour Party were ruining running Barnet. In the world of the swivel-eyed Trot, it is quite acceptable to post comments berating the evil Tories, but all criticism of Labour Administrations must be suppressed.

You cannot claim to support freedom of expression but then remove a comment that is lawful and relevant to the debate. You either believe in freedom of expression or you don’t. Now we know in which camp the fragrant Mrs Angry sits.

Update: 7th November, 2011

DCMD temporarily took down this blogpost yesterday as a gesture of goodwill to Mrs Angry so that he could consider her complaint that it was an unwarranted personal attack. Mrs Angry contends, and DCMD accepts, that she has no knowledge of the facts surrounding the Underhill sale. Without being availed of the facts, Mrs Angry’s argument is that she does not want to open herself up to legal liability in the event that someone posts a defamatory or libellous message. That is fair enough, but only to the extent of dealing with unknown persons. Perhaps unintentionally, by removing his comments, Mrs Angry was effectively saying to DCMD “I do not trust what you have written”.

The facts of the matter are publicly available, and have been for several years. That Mrs Angry exercises her right not to read these documents does not make them any less valid.

Mrs Angry believes that DCMD’s comments about Jeff Lustig are an attempt to re-open the debate about the Underhill sale. They are not, and despite him telling her so several times, she still persists in this belief. The issue is one of corporate governance.

Mr Lustig was the council’s senior legal officer in charge of the Underhill sale. It is his signature which made the contract legally binding. In the private sector, if an employee carried out a transaction which caused his employer to incur losses of hundreds of thousands of pounds - if not millions - and then suffered the ignominy of that transaction being declared unlawful, he would be summarily dismissed. Not so in Barnet. Mr Lustig was not removed from his post, as he should have been, but promoted to Head of Corporate Governance and given a salary rise.

The majority of the scandals recently exposed by Barnet’s Bloggers can be attributed to a failure of corporate governance. The Metpro scandal, for example, came about because nobody bothered to check the council’s own rules and regulations for the awarding of external contracts. When council employees see that the rules can be ignored with impunity and that the people responsible for major cock ups are never held to account, it is no wonder that standards fall.

But it is the job of the Head of Corporate Governance to ensure that standards don’t fall and that the letter of the law is applied to everything done in the Council’s name. In this regard, Mr Lustig has failed spectacularly in his statutory duties.

Rog T’s revelation of the attempt by Barnet to legally gag its opponents also has Mr Lustig’s fingerprints on, although Mrs Angry does not seem to accept this. The Council’s complaint to the Information Commissioner was based on a legal argument regarding the Data Protection Act. It is inconceivable that Mr Lustig would not have been aware of the action being taken in the Council’s name.

Mrs Angry doubts whether Mr Lustig came up with the idea of the complaint to the Information Commissioner. That may very well be so, but as the Council’s senior legal officer, he should have stopped the application in his tracks. It is his job to give advice on legal matters. Did he advise the council to drop the action? If so, why was he ignored?

Mr Lustig’s position is untenable as his credibility has been irreparably undermined. He is not employed to allow public funds to be used to pursue a vendetta against Bloggers. His job is to serve the people of Barnet and ensure that the council complies with the law. Until such time as he is removed from his position and replaced by someone who will carry out his duties without fear or favour, these scandals will continue to occur.

Mrs Angry is seemingly so determined to portray every council cock up as the work of the evil Tories that she sometimes loses sight of the bigger picture. It is to Mr Lustig’s good fortune that Mrs Angry will not countenance this debate on her blog.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Greece gives the World an overdue lesson in democracy

It is widely accepted that the Greeks ‘created’ democracy as we know it some 2,500 years ago in Athens; and it is to Greece again that we must give thanks for reminding the morally corrupt dictators of the modern world - Cameron, Obama, Sarkozy, Merkel, Berlusconi et al - that it is the public who grant politicians the power to govern. Not only do we, the people, require politicians to listen to us, we actually expect them to govern in our interests, not theirs.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has caused widespread panic in the global financial markets by declaring that the bail out package recently agreed by EU leaders (without any democratic mandate) must be put to a referendum of his electorate. What an outrageous proposal to let the people decide!

Given that the majority of Greeks have consistently opposed the country’s half hearted austerity measures, it seems certain that they will similarly reject the EU’s draconian proposals. This is causing the other EU leaders to shit themselves because they know that the consequence would not simply be the formal bankruptcy of Greece, and the subsequent default on its debts, but the beginning of the collapse of the Euro itself.

Greece should never have been allowed to join the Euro, but due to a deliberate cover-up of the true state of its economy, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats were able to fiddle the figures and allow the country to qualify for entry. Now the rest of the EU is required to pay the consequences. Why should German taxpayers pay for the profligacy of another sovereign state? Why should the UK contribute to bail out funds when we are not even part of the Euro?

The reality is that the swivel-eyed Trots who have been running Europe for the last 40 years thought that Governments could just keep on spending forever, to keep alive their dream of a centralised European Super State. They simply can’t face reality and have decided instead to attack the Greek Prime Minister for his temerity in seeking the consent of the people who have to pay the bill.

Of course, bankruptcy for Greece will be painful for its citizens in the short to medium term, but that is the price to pay for living beyond your means for so long. Many Western banks will take big hits on the default of Greek bonds, but that is their own fault for being so greedy. If banks lends money without carrying out due diligence, it is their own fault. Taxpayers should not have to pick up the bill.

The West has been living on tick for far too long. In the UK, Gordon Brown almost bankrupted this country with his reckless spending spree designed for no other purpose than to win votes for Labour. The taxpayer funded party is well and truly over, and the sooner weak economies are allowed to collapse, the sooner a genuine rebuilding process can begin.

It would be nice to think that the West has learnt its lesson and will be more financially responsible in the future, but people probably thought the same thing in 1929 after the Wall Street crash. Politicians never learn the lessons of history.