Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Welsh Government job figures challenged by Liberal Democrats

Eluned Parrott AM, the Welsh Liberal Democrat speaker on business and Europe, has exposed statistical flaws in the claims made by Carwyn Jones for the Labour Welsh Government's Jobs Growth scheme.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Myth-busting bust

UKIP published a series of EU “myth busters” which either don’t add up, or don’t bust the “myth” they refer to. It’s worth noting the hyperlinks which are suspiciously missing from the UKIP “myth busting”.
Here we go through step by step to show, with facts, why UKIP is wrong.

MYTH 1. Britain would lose out on millions of jobs if we left the EU.
UKIP FACT: This is a common deceit. In fact, the EU would lose 4 millions jobs if it ceased trading with the UK, it’s biggest customer. The EU sells more to us than we sell to it. In 2009 there was a trade deficit of £34.9bn; in 2011, that deficit was nearly £50bn.
THE TRUTH: We have a trade deficit in goods with the EU. When services are included we have a trade surplus, so we wouldn’t be in the best negotiating position.
A November 2013 poll of businesses by Business for Britain found that 5% of small businesses, 8% of medium-sized and 9% of large firms think they would close if Britain left the EU. That amounts to 53,000 businesses employing 1.5million people. Here is the polling data (pdf). Here is The Times covering the story.

MYTH 2. Tariff barriers will exclude us from trade with the EU.
UKIP FACT: The EU has free trade agreements with 53 countries to overcome such tariffs, and is negotiating a further 74.
THE TRUTH: We would, of course, still be able to trade with the EU, but there would be some tariff barriers. The Economist said that under WTO rules:
“British dairy exports would incur an import tax of 55% to reach the EU market, with tariffs on some items of more than 200%. Cheddar cheese would face a tariff of €167 per 100kg; the mark-up on Stilton would be €141. Average tariffs on clothing would push up their price in European markets by 12%. Parts of Britain’s car industry would move out. British-based producers would face a 4% tariff on car-equipment sales to the EU.”
Britain would also eventually face non-tariff barriers. EU exports account for 14% of our GDP but we wouldn’t have a single vote over the rules for those exports. Therefore, the rules would start to be unfavourable to British exports.

MYTH 3. Britain cannot survive economically outside the EU in a world of trading blocs.
UKIP FACT: Major economies such as Japan (the world’s third largest) are not in a trading bloc. Our best trading relationships are not within the EU, but outside, with countries like the USA and Switzerland.
THE TRUTH: Our biggest trading partner is the rest of the EU. Japan is actually in talks to join a large trade bloc (the Asia-Pacific free-trade bloc) having spent the last two decades in economic crisis. It is also negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU.

MYTH 4. The EU is moving towards the UK’s position on cutting regulation and bureaucracy.
UKIP FACT: Once in place, EU directives are highly unlikely to be reformed or repealed. Less than 15% of Britain’s GDP represents trade with the EU yet Brussels regulations afflict 100% of our economy. In 2010, Open Europe estimated EU regulation had cost Britain £124 billion since 1998.
THE TRUTH: This is just assertion. The EU’s REFIT programme which is ongoing has resulted in the Commission screening all EU legislation to simplify it and to reduce the burden. As a result regulations have been scrapped. Britain has been a key supporter for this programme.
Recently, the EU exempted small businesses from accounting requirements. A welcome step to reduce bureaucracy.
EU Commission guidelines stipulate that it will not introduce legislation where the economic burden outweighs the benefits after a public consultation and rigorous impact assessment.

MYTH 5. If we leave, we’ll have to pay the EU billions and implement all its regulations without a say.
UKIP FACT: We have little say within the EU, and would have more leverage as an independent sovereign nation. Now, we have only 8.4% of voting power ‘say’ in the EU. Our 73 MEPs are a minority within the 766 in the European Parliament.
THE TRUTH: UKIP haven’t busted the myth at all. Norway has implemented ¾ of EU laws, without a say in the content of a single one of them. Its citizens also pay 79% of what British citizens pay for membership.

MYTH 6. The EU has brought peace to the European continent.
UKIP FACT: It is NATO, founded in 1949 and dominated by the USA, and not the EU, that has actually kept the peace in Europe, together with parliamentary democracy. Both of which are being undermined by the EU.
THE TRUTH: NATO was set up to stop the Soviet Union invading Western Europe. The EU was set up to stop France and Germany going to war again. The EU has also been the biggest advocate and force for parliamentary democracies in Europe and has enabled many former dictatorships (such as Greece, Spain and Portugal) to become democracies.

MYTH 7. The EU has a positive impact on the British economy.
UKIP FACT: Industries like fishing, farming, postal services and manufacturing have been devastated by our membership of the EU which costs billions of pounds and large numbers of lost jobs thanks to red tape, substantial membership and aid contributions and other costs.
THE TRUTH: The National Farmers Union has been supportive of a number of EU measures, including the recently signed free trade deal with Canada which will create a huge export market for British farmers. A deal the size of which we simply wouldn’t have got on our own.

MYTH 8. We’ll lose foreign investment if we leave the EU.
UKIP FACT: In a 2010 survey on UK’s attractiveness to foreign investors, Ernst and Young found Britain remained the top Foreign Direct Investment destination in Europe thanks to the City of London and the UK’s relationship with the US.
THE TRUTH: Many investors into the UK including Nissan and Ford motor companies have said they would reconsider investment if the UK left the EU.
A UK Government analysis has said: “EU membership has contributed to FDI growth in the UK by reducing access costs to a larger market, enabling greater economies of scale and returns on investment, increasing competition and facilitating agglomeration.”
“More than 1,300 Japanese companies have invested in the UK, as part of the single market of the EU, and have created 130,000 jobs, more than anywhere else in Europe. This fact demonstrates that the advantage of the UK as a gateway to the European market has attracted Japanese investment.”

MYTH 9. We will lose influence in the world by being outside the EU
UKIP FACT: Britain has a substantial ‘portfolio of power’: membership of the G20 and G8 Nations, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and seats on the International Monetary Fund Board of Governors and World Trade Organisation. We are at the heart of the 54-nation Commonwealth.
THE TRUTH: Whether it’s negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran or leading the world to an agreement on climate change, the EU provides Britain with a louder voice and more influence in the world.

MYTH 10. Legally, we can’t leave the EU.
UKIP FACT: Britain could leave the EU in a single day by repealing the European Communities Act 1972 and its attendant Amendment Acts through a single clause Bill passing through Westminster. A replacement UK/EU Free Trade Agreement would not need time-consuming negotiation on tariff reductions if it merely replicated existing EU trade arrangements.
THE TRUTH: This isn’t a myth we’ve heard before. Maybe they ran out at 9?

Thanks to Catherine Bearder MEP and to British Influence for the rebuttals above. As to Myth 10, it is possible after the Lisbon Treaty for nations to withdraw from the European Union.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Leaving the EU poses “very significant risks” to UK’s future

Two new reports commissioned by independent financial services membership body, TheCityUK show that leaving the European Union poses significant risks to Britain's future. This latest research suggests that exiting the EU would undermine Britain's economic well-being and the ability of business to grow and compete in world markets.

The reports also found that the EU has a positive impact on driving UK trade, high productivity and growth.

Read more here.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

EU provides international trade muscle

Over 60% of UK exports are covered by EU trade agreements. This will rise to 85% when all deals are completed.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Liberal Democrat leader launches European Parliament elections campaign

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has today launched the Liberal Democrats’ 2014 European election campaign. The Liberal Democrats are now the only party truly campaigning to keep Britain IN Europe. Back our campaign here

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The truth about Ukip's immigration billboards

Yesterday Ukip published billboards designed to scare people about the impact that being in Europe has on immigration.

The Liberal Democrats believe that it is right to tackle concerns about immigration, but spreading fear and bogus claims is not the answer.

Instead, we are working to deliver better immigration checks and more job opportunities. That’s why we have created 1.6 million apprenticeships, helping young people in Britain find work.

We believe it's time to tell the truth about immigration.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Joan Davies

There is an obituary for Joan Davies by her son in today’s Guardian:
 Joan stood as a Liberal in South Wales for the European Parliament in the 1980s.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Green voting records in the European Parliament

Climate Action Network Europe rates MEPs on their 2009-2014 voting records
on climate and energy policies:

Very Good

100%  Brian SIMPSON (LP)
100%  Caroline LUCAS* (GP)
100%  David MARTIN (LP)
100%  Derek VAUGHAN (LP)
100%  Martina ANDERSON* (SF)
100%  Peter SKINNER (LP)
90%  Andrew DUFF (LDP)
90%  Catherine STIHLER (LP)
90%  Jill EVANS (PC-PoW)
90%  Linda McAVAN (LP)
90%  Mary HONEYBALL (LP)
90%  Richard HOWITT (LP)
89%  Keith TAYLOR* (GP)
80%  Arlene McCARTHY (LP)
80%  Baroness Sarah LUDFORD (LDP)
80%  Catherine BEARDER (LDP)
80%  Claude MORAES (LP)
80%  Edward McMILLAN-SCOTT (LDP)
80%  Fiona HALL (LDP)
80%  Glenis WILLMOTT (LP)
80%  Jean LAMBERT (GP)
80%  Sharon BOWLES (LDP)
80%  Sir Graham WATSON (LDP)
75%  Rebecca TAYLOR* (LDP)


70%  Stephen HUGHES (LP)
60%  Alyn SMITH (SNP)
60%  Bill NEWTON DUNN (LDP)
60%  Chris DAVIES (LDP)
60%  George LYON (LDP)
60%  Ian HUDGHTON (SNP)
50%  Diana WALLIS* (LDP)
50%  Elizabeth LYNNE* (LDP)
50%  Michael CASHMAN (LP)


33%  Bairbre de BRÚN* (SF)
30%  Ashley FOX (CP)
30%  Charles TANNOCK (CP)
30%  Emma McCLARKIN (CP)
30%  Geoffrey VAN ORDEN (CP)
30%  James ELLES (CP)
30%  Julie GIRLING (CP)
30%  Kay SWINBURNE (CP)
30%  Malcolm HARBOUR (CP)
30%  Martin CALLANAN (CP)
30%  Philip BRADBOURN (CP)
30%  Robert STURDY (CP)
30%  Struan STEVENSON (CP)
30%  Timothy KIRKHOPE (CP)
30%  Vicky FORD (CP)
25%  Anthea McINTYRE* (CP)
25%  Phil BENNION* (LDP)
20%  Daniel HANNAN (CP)
20%  Giles CHICHESTER (CP)
20%  Jacqueline FOSTER (CP)
20%  James NICHOLSON (UCU)
20%  Nirj DEVA (CP)
20%  Richard ASHWORTH (CP)
20%  Sajjad KARIM (CP)
20%  Sir Robert ATKINS (CP)
20%  Syed KAMALL (CP)
10%  Marta ANDREASEN (CP)
10%  Nick GRIFFIN (BNP)
0%  Andrew Henry William BRONS (BDP)
0%  Derek Roland CLARK (UKIP)
0%  Diane DODDS (DUP NI)
0%  Gerard BATTEN (UKIP)
0%  Godfrey BLOOM (UKIP)
0%  John BUFTON (UKIP)
0%  John Stuart AGNEW (UKIP)
0%  Nicole SINCLAIRE (WDR)
0%  Nigel FARAGE (UKIP)
0%  Paul NUTTALL (UKIP)
0%  Roger HELMER (UKIP)
0%  Trevor COLMAN (UKIP)
0%  William (The Earl of) DARTMOUTH (UKIP)

Frank Little writes:
Hats off to Jill Evans (Plaid) and Derek Vaughan (Labour), but of the UK mainstream, the Liberal Democrat party is the most consistent in supporting green measures. The "very bad" group is dominated by UKIP and the Conservatives.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Fraudster who fled Britain has been returned and put behind bars

Thanks to the European Arrest Warrant, a member of a Nottingham-based crime gang who fled the UK to avoid prison has been returned to Britain to start a five-year jail sentence.


Magdalena Ferkova was part of a crime group that stole large amounts of public money. She had flown vulnerable foreign nationals to the UK to act as ‘benefit tourists’, illegally claiming over a million pounds in tax credits and Child Benefit. After luring the individuals to the UK and forcing them to make applications, Ferkova sent the claimants home.

Four other members of the gang were sentenced in November, however, Ferkova fled Britain during her trial. A European Arrest Warrant was issued the following month and she was finally captured in the Czech Republic and returned to Britain.

If it weren’t for Britain being IN Europe, the European Arrest Warrant would not exist here and Magdalena Ferkova would still be on the run, possibly committing more crimes.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

UKIP MEPs vote against tackling tax evasion

Interesting vote in the European Parliament on Tuesday about tackling tax fraud, tax evasion and tax havens. The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour (582-35), with all the Lib Dem MEPs in the 582. And in amongst the 35? All the UKIP MEPs.

Friday, April 04, 2014

European Parliament votes to cap credit card fees

MEPs yesterday voted for an EU cap on card payment fees, which are estimated to cost retailers in the EU over £8 billion each year.

The European Parliament negotiating position, in line with the proposal from the European Commission, favours a cap of 0.3% of the transaction on credit card purchases. But Parliament goes even further than the Commission proposal on debit card fees with a cap of either 7cents (6p) or 0.2% of the transaction value on debit card purchases, whichever is lower. These caps would also be applied to both cross-border and domestic payments.

Research by the EU has shown that a cap in fees could provide retailers with nearly £5 billion in savings and lead to lower consumer prices. However, Parliament is now waiting for the Member States to finalise their negotiating position before such caps can become law.

Liberal Democrat MEP and Chair of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Sharon Bowles, commented: "Each year businesses suffer from unregulated and unjustifiably high fees when a customer chooses to pay by card.

"Capping these transaction fees will mean businesses can and should be able to pass on savings to consumers, which will directly benefit households up and down the country and contribute to economic growth and consumer confidence.

"As the Party of In, Liberal Democrats want to strengthen and protect our vital trade links with the rest of the EU. By cutting unnecessary costs for businesses the UK can increase its competitiveness within the Single Market."

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Which is worse: phytophthora or Neath Port Talbot's contractors?

Frank Little writes:
What should have been a controlled response to a possible attack by the larch fungus seems to have turned into wholesale clearance in Craig Gwladus. There is a report by Cadoxton photographer Mike Davies on the Neath Guardian website.

We should be interested to learn what action councillors Annette Wingrave (Cadoxton) and Doreen Jones (Aberdulais) are taking.