Natalie’s Making Blackberry Moonshine

Usually it is those of us of a more libertarian bent who rail against regulations that prevent individuals with enterprise creating goods and services which do no harm to others. Growing your own cannabis, picking psilocybin mushrooms for traditional religious festivals or brewing your own moonshine for personal consumption is celebrated by most of us with free market leanings. It is usually interfering nanny staters like the Green Party who want to regulate, ban and tax the voluntary exchange of goods and services between consenting adults…

Natalie is making her own “BlackBerry Whiskey” – sounds like a cracking idea. However it is actually illegal to manufacture spirits in the UK without a distiller’s licence as required under the provisions of Section 12 of the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 and this includes manufacture for “own or domestic use”. Public Notice 39 – “Spirits production in the UK” provides details of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs’ requirements – they are quite draconian. If Natalie is brewing whiskey, she has got a distiller’s licence, right?Natalie is a relentless campaigner for tighter regulation of food production, the distilling of spirits has been regulated for centuries – home distillers having a tendency to produce moonshine that blinded consumers or poisoned them. Natalie is in favour of coming down hard food producers who break the law…

UPDATE: Some are suggesting that she is merely infusing blackberries into whiskey. This is a worse crime. Ruins the whiskey.

Green Taxes Set to Treble

Green subsidies – levied on consumer bills – will treble by 2021-22, The Office for Budget Responsibility says. The controversial tax take will rise from £4.6 billion in 2015-16 to £13.5 billion in 2021-22. The cash will be spent on subsidising economically non-viable energy, such as solar and wind farms. Earlier this week Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, got into a public spat with the government, blaming green levies for putting an extra £149 a year on household bills. The firm said green taxes caused “significant pressures” on pricing and that there was no option but to pass costs on to customers. Centrica CEO Ian Conn said:

“It is transmission and distribution of electricity to the home and government policy costs that are driving our price increase.”

A spinner for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) claimed: “A number of independent reports have shown energy policy costs make up a relatively small proportion of household energy bills.”

Days later the government’s own forecaster admits green policy costs will treble…

Corbynistas Lose Seats

Five solar-powered “smart benches” installed throughout Jez’s constituency will be ripped up after the Corbynista politician in charge failed to seek planning permission from her own council. Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington’s Executive Member for Transport and Environment – and pro-Corbyn NEC member – oversaw a project to erect the elaborate high-tech benches in North London. The seats contain phone charging sockets and offer free wi-fi, but also feature a slew of environmental probes which monitor temperature, CO2, humidity and even ambient noise levels. At the time of their installation, Webbe told the Islington Gazette:

“These pioneering Smart Benches offer the best advances in smart technology and we are very pleased Islington is one of the first places in London to trial them. We look forward to seeing how they benefit residents, workers and visitors alike.”

Strawberry Energy, the firm which designed the benches, said their environmental credentials were:

“Especially relevant in support of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s aim to improve the capital’s air quality.”

But Webbe and her colleagues failed to obtain the necessary approvals before works went ahead. Retrospective applications for five out of six benches were rejected last month by Webbe’s own planning department. The taxpayer will meet the cost of ripping them from the ground…

Planning documents reveal the project would probably never gone ahead had permission been sought prior to construction. The Metropolitan Police warned users would be at risk of having their phones stolen and that the benches could be subject to criminal damage. Transport for London objected outright to several of the benches, saying they “add to street clutter in a designated conservation area.” Residents group the Islington Society said they were “a blight on the borough landscape”. Guido has asked the Labour-run council to put a figure on the total cost of the project, including of ripping up the smart benches. Corbynistas lose seats…

Webbe was an early supporter of Corbyn’s leadership bid and worked on Ken Livingstone’s London mayoral campaign. Just this week she gave an interview where she condemned moderate Labour MPs, saying:

“Parliament is so all consuming MPs almost forgot what the real world is about and they had become so believing of their own hype. What was sustaining them was their interaction with the mainstream media and their interactions with big businesses. There is a real world out there. It’s not that they didn’t know austerity was biting and hurting.”

Yet you found the cash to waste on this…

George Monbiot Fowls Up on Chlorine Chicken

Guardianista eco-warrior George Monbiot will be in a fowl mood today after he was caught out employing underhand statistical wizardry in an attempt to bash Brexit. Monbiot used his Guardian column to heavily hint that chlorinated chicken could be a factor behind poultry-borne infection rates which he claimed “four and five times higher in North America than in Europe“. He wrote:

“[The Adam Smith Institute] says that figures from the World Health Organisation reveal that salmonella and campylobacter infections there are “not out of line” with rates in the European Union. I checked the source: the WHO study the Adam Smith Institute cited. While the incidence of campylobacter is similar, it shows that the burdens of infection per head of population from the two species of salmonella it analyses – Salmonella typhi and Salmonella paratyphi – are, respectively, four times and five times higher in North America than in Europe. I cannot state that this is caused by chlorinated chicken, as the WHO doesn’t provide such detail. But I can state that the Adam Smith Institute’s claim is false.”

The problem with Monbiot’s wizardry it is nonsense. As the ASI comprehensively demonstrates:

“When you compare developed Western Europe, where we use the farm-to-fork approach, to developed North America, where they mostly chlorine wash at the end, the rates of the two types of salmonella seem higher in the US. But what Monbiot doesn’t report are the actual numbers. Salmonella Paratyphi A and Salmonella Typhi infections are so rare in both subregions that the difference Monbiot highlights is trivial in the context of total infections, which the WHO weights according to the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost to them. The figures are 0.1 and 0.4 DALYs per 100,000 in North America versus 0.02 and 0.09 in Western Europe, respectively. But even those average estimates are misleading: the 95% confidence intervals on those numbers all touch zero, and include the rates of the opposite countries. That is: the stats are statistically insignificant from each other. When you drill down to two such specific sub-figures, relying on imperfect sources, you can’t draw a clear result. It’s like rolling two dice three times and arguing the one with the higher number is loaded: you haven’t got enough data to make that conclusion.”

Monbiot tried to hold out on Twitter, rudely dismissing those who politely pointed out he was wrong:

These rather unfortunate tweets have been deleted and he has now belatedly admitted his mistake:

You can’t just wing it on chlorine chicken, George…

Petrol and Diesel Ban Hypocrites Praise French and Bash British

The UK government’s ban on petrol and diesel car sales from 2040 caused many to jump on the electric-powered outrage bus this week. Let’s start with London mayor Sadiq Khan, who instantly panned the policy as soon as it was announced:

“A half-hearted commitment from Government simply isn’t good enough… The commitment to phase out sales of new diesel cars is welcome, but Londoners suffering right now simply can’t afford to wait until 2040.”

He’s changed his tune. Khan lavished praised on the French government when it instituted the same policy earlier this month:
“I welcome the strong leadership the French government has shown by making the decision to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. This radical step shames the timid and insufficient response of our own government to the health threat posed by poor air quality.”
Shameless from Sadiq.

Meanwhile, environmental lawyers ClientEarth called the UK government’s move a “diversionary tactic”:
“The 2040 diesel and petrol ban, while important is a diversionary tactic and doesn’t deal with the public health emergency caused by illegally polluted air, now.”
Hmm. Doesn’t quite tally with the views of ClientEarth CEO James Thornton, who – like Khan – warmly embraced the French government when it enacted the very same policy:
“This is a huge statement of intent from the French government and an example of how we’re likely to see exponential change in the coming years as governments grapple with the necessary changes we have to make for air quality and our climate… These moves should be heeded by other governments and industry, who need to act to protect us from air pollution in our towns and cities and help mitigate climate change.”  

It’s brilliant when the French do it, a “diversion” when the British do it…

The most egregious example comes from Greenpeace. The environmentalist ultras condemned the UK government’s ban as “headline-grabbing” and “redundant“, saying:
“5 things the government doesn’t want you to know about their headline-grabbing petrol and diesel ban… It could be far too late — and end up redundant…” 
But when the French instituted the same ban, Greenpeace criticised the UK government for “stalling” and not introducing it sooner:
“The move away from fossil fuel powered cars towards electric is inevitable, and picking up speed fast. First Volvo, now France, yet the UK government is still stalling.”
Plus ça change…

Gove: No to Chlorine Chicken

Michael Gove flatly ruled out chlorinated chicken in Brexit Britain’s supermarkets on the Today programme, hours after Liam Fox insisted there was no health issue with US-style chemically washed poultry. Fox is right that this whole row is confected and that the science doesn’t justify the ruffled feathers. Scaremongering by opportunistic Remainers maybe, but regardless of the facts chlorine chicken is always going to be unpopular, will cut through to the public and not help the PR for Brexit. The story should have been shut down days ago, it is distracting from Labour’s student debt row and what should have been a very good week for the Tories…

Greens’ Frequent Flyer Tax Slippery Slope

Green co-leader Jonathan Bartley has proposed a new tax to “penalise those who take flights multiple times per year“. Frequent flyers are already clobbered by air passenger duty: the state taxes flights on a sliding scale from £13 to a whopping £450 per passenger depending on service class and distance flown. As such frequent flyers already pay much more in duties than occasional travellers. The Greens’ tax isn’t anywhere near as progressive as they’d like to claim: frequent flyers are not just businessmen and jet-setters, what about migrant workers visiting their families? Do the Greens really want to go after them? The disincentives for business and trade are obvious. Chillingly, the proposal would require the government to spy on the flight patterns of every single citizen, treating every flyer as if they were on a watch list. Even Gordon Brown thought it was a bad idea

Bartley’s tax isn’t a new idea: it’s supported by a coalition of environmentalist groups under the front campaign A Free Ride. The Greens might be pretending to be on the side of holidaymakers and non-frequent flyers, but the A Free Ride website reveals their true aim:

“The best thing for the climate would be if everyone were to stop flying immediately.”

Then Green Party leaders couldn’t jet around the world for those environmental conferences…

Green Brexit Means End to MadCAP Waste

Britain’s ‘Green Brexit’ will set the “global gold standard” in environmental policy and protections, Michael Gove pledges today. The Environment Secretary this morning addresses green group WWF, where he will tell his audience:

“Leaving the European Union means leaving the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), leaving the Common Fisheries Policy, taking back control of environmental policy… Indeed, outside the European Union there is scope for Britain not just to set the very highest standards in marine conservation, but to be a global leader in environmental policy across the board…”

Gove will refer to himself as an environmentalist as he outlines the UK’s freedom from the CAP, meaning post-Brexit subsidies can be restricted only to those who meet rigorous standards determined by Britain not Brussels. The CAP, under which the EU allocated funding based on the size of landholdings, led to staggering examples of waste. Last year BBC News revealed £400,000 of taxpayers’ money was being dished out to the Newmarket farm of billionaire Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah al Saud. The prince’s farm is used for breeding racehorses. The CAP also meant nearly £800,000 in taxpayer subsidies being granted to the Mormons. It encouraged a pratice called ‘slipper farming’: farmers simply bought up vast tracts of land to get the subsidies attached to it. Britain’s freedom from this madCAP scheme will make Europe’s farmers green with envy…

Brexit Won’t Cause Cancer

George Osborne is enjoying himself and the front page of today’s Standard basically implies Brexit will give you cancer. This will apparently be a consequence of the UK leaving Euratom – the European Atomic Energy Community. Allegedly it will mean nuclear scientists and material will not be able to cross borders. Which will be odd given Britain is, with France, one of Europe’s only nuclear armed states.

The UK also hosts the Joint European Torus (JET), the world’s largest operational nuclear fusion device. The JET project – carried out by a team of 350 international scientists – is formally a joint venture used by more than 40 EU laboratories. Euratom’s flagship nuclear fusion research project is the ‘International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor’ (ITER), the world’s largest planned nuclear fusion experiment. Located in the south of France, it is funded and run by a seven-party consortium composed of the EU, India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the US. Six out of the seven parties are not members of Euratom. Expect that to increase to seven out of eight.

Since 2014, Switzerland has participated in Euratom programmes as an associated state. As of 2016 the community had co-operation agreements of various scopes with eight countries: the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and South Africa. After Brexit it will increase to co-operation with nine states.

According to Article 101 of the Euratom Treaty, ‘The Euratom Community may, within the limits of its powers and jurisdiction, enter into obligations by concluding agreements or contracts with a third state, an international organisation or a national of a third state’.  So the UK could work with Euratom as a third country, as can individual Britons.

By acquiring the status of third country the UK might join countries such as China and Russia, with which Euratom has established a ‘structured dialogue to identify a common set of research topics of mutual interest in which cooperation can take place on a shared-cost basis’. Alternatively under Article 206 of the Euratom Treaty, ‘The Community may conclude with one or more States or international organisations agreements establishing an association involving reciprocal rights and obligations, common action and special procedures’. That is the basis on which in 2014 Switzerland became an Associated Country to Euratom.

Did Guido mention that the UK is one of the biggest funders of Euratom projects? Osborne’s latest instalment of ‘Project Fear’ is not even up to his pre-referendum nonsense…

UPDATE: Guido forgot to mention the ONR which will take on Euratom responsibilities. Britain was after all a nuclear power before Euratom existed.

European Commission Planning EU-Wide Taxes to Fill Post-Brexit Black Hole

Guido said in January that world opinion would shift this year from “What the hell have the Brits done?” to “The EU is in trouble without Britain.” Lo and behold the European Commission has today issued a finance paper which faces up to the reality of the EU without its second biggest financier.  The report on Future Financing of the EU is from a high-level group set up jointly by the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission, chaired by Mario Monti. The literal money quote is:

“The gap in EU finances arising from the United Kingdom’s withdrawal and from the financing needs of new priorities need to be clearly acknowledged.”

Translation: the EU is going to go broke unless they do something big. Some of the ideas the Commission suggests include:

  • Common energy or environmental taxes.
  • A percentage of the common corporate tax base or the financial transaction tax going to the EU.
  • Exploiting the resources of European Central Bank for the EU budget.
  • Revenues from auctions under the Emissions Trading System, green taxes for cars
  • Visa fees from the European Travel Information and Authorisation System to be paid by tourists entering the EU
  • Revenue from the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) to be paid to the EU

German industry will not be keen on becoming more heavily taxed and less competitive, Ireland will not be happy to raise corporate taxes, funny money ideas will horrify the Bundesbankers in Frankfurt, more green car taxes will infuriate car loving drivers in Northern Europe. The tourist industry in Southern Europe will despair at tourist taxes. The FTT won’t raise much tax because all the trade that can will move to New York, Hong Kong and the financial capital of the world, London. This is a recipe for European decline…

Guido has a radical idea for the EU: do less. They won’t because “more Europe” is always the answer in Brussels…

Meltdown After Nuclear Power Plant Holds Bikini Contest to Choose Interns

A Czech nuclear power plant operator has apologised for using a bikini contest to choose its next intern. Power generation conglomerate CEZ had 10 bikini-clad high school graduates pose in a cooling tower of its Temelin nuclear power plant with the most popular following a Facebook vote winning a 14 day internship at the plant. A local TV station covered the finals:

In a press release CEZ likened the photoshoot to its previous cultural enrichment programs, such as hosting the Bohemian Philharmonic at the plant in South Bohemia. They said the experience was greatly enjoyed by the girls, who were required for safety reasons to wear hard hats and enclosed shoes at all times in the Czech Republic’s largest power station.

Gaia thinks this is yet another terrible case of everyday sexism…

Public Auditors Blast Ed Davey’s Hinkley Deal

Ed Davey is expected to launch his bid for the LibDem leadership imminently, so it is good timing for the National Audit Office to release their report into his Hinkley Point deal today. Sir Edward was the Energy Secretary pushed though the £18 billion deal and insisted it was good value. The National Audit Office disagrees, this morning calling Hinkley Point “a risky and expensive project” that is “not value for money“. They say the case for the plant is “marginal“. As damning language as it gets…

Even more embarrassingly for Sir Edward, his own party opposes Hinkley Point. LibDem energy spokesman Lynne Featherstone says:

“Failing to call a stop to Hinkley will prove a costly mistake. The opportunity to pull the plug on Hinkley has been missed, and we will all pay for it from our pockets.”

The final humiliation for Davey. Well, depending on how his leadership bid goes…

Be the Change You Want to See

Green Leaders’ Cringe Skit

Apart from the sound, lighting, acting and script it’s a good concept…

Green-LibDem Deals to Help Olney and Cable

The Green Party has stood down its candidate in Richmond Park and endorsed LibDem Sarah Olney against Zac Goldsmith. Very murky goings on here. The Greens were offered £250,000 not to run against Zac last time. This time round they initially selected a candidate, Andree Frieze, and said she would run. That was until the LibDems stood down their candidate against Caroline Lucas in Brighton. What do you know, the Greens have now pulled out in Richmond Park and also in Twickenham, where Vince Cable is trying to unseat Tory MP Tania Mathias. The LibDems laughably claim there is no deal-making going on here but that is just not credible – local Greens privately admit it is an official pact. Or a coalition of chaos, you might say…

LibDem-Green Richmond-Brighton Pact

The LibDems say the decision not to stand against Caroline Lucas in Brighton was taken locally and merely “welcomed” centrally. That’s not what the Greens say. Two separate Green Party sources have independently told Guido that last year the LibDems agreed not to stand against Lucas at the next general election in exchange for the Greens not running against Sarah Olney in the Richmond Park by-election. This really annoyed local Greens at the time, remember the row about the £250,000 bung and Lucas’ draconian attempts to silence her critics. Unfortunately for the LibDems, the Greens plan to run in Richmond this time round. And the “Progressive Alliance” fits right into the Tories’ “coalition of chaos” narrative…

Lucas Tries to Get Colleague Suspended For Tweeting Guido

Caroline Lucas has tried to get a Green Party colleague suspended for tweeting out a Guido story. Readers will remember our revelation that the Greens had been offered a £250,000 inducement to further a so-called ‘Progressive Alliance’ with the LibDems. Our story provoked uproar among Green members who feared they were being sold out by the leadership. One concerned Green, Sutton councillor Nick Mattey, tweeted out the Guido story and expressed his fears that the Greens were plotting to “carve up” seats with the LibDems. Guido has been passed an internal Green Party report revealing that Caroline Lucas attempted to get Mattey kicked out of the party for his tweet. In a formal complaint, Lucas wrote:

“Nick Mattey has brought the party into disrepute by further spreading the dissemination of private leaked documents… [The party must] suspend the above named member pending investigation.”

In his defence to the Green Party disciplinary committee, Mattey wrote:

“The contents of the Guido Fawkes article were very disturbing… The reason that we have a free press like Guido Fawkes is that it that prints uncomfortable truths. Newspapers and the media need to expose this type of inconsistency and hypocrisy, this is vital in any democracy.”

Mattey decided not to renew his membership so is now out of the party. Caroline has repeatedly campaigned to protect whistleblowers and claims to be a defender of those who seek to expose shady deals and cover-ups. Yet when those deals and cover-ups involve the Greens, she tries to silence their exposure…

Greens Don’t Give Staff Three Day Weekends

The Green Party’s proposal to introduce a three day weekend was a surprisingly populist policy this Monday morning. Job-sharing party leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley say Britons should be given an extra day off because “when people are exhausted, their productivity goes down”. Just one catch: over-worked tree-hugging sources claim the Greens only allow their own staff regular, energy-sapping two day weekends. A Green Party spokesman would only say:

“We don’t comment on staffing matters.”

Won’t somebody think of the bag (for life) carriers?

Green Deputy Leader Gets Brillo’d

Green deputy leader Amelia Womack well out of her depth and without an answer for why she says the government is pursuing an “extreme” Brexit…

Bad Atmosphere: Caroline Lucas Flies to Washington

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas flew in business class to Washington yesterday on a gasoline guzzling, CO2 spurting aeroplane which dumped almost a tonne of carbon into the atmosphere. A spokesman for Lucas confirmed to Guido that she flew on British Airways and said:

“Caroline is in Washington DC on a work visit with the Environmental Audit Committee.

[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Logging company Resolute’s CEO Richard Garneau suing Greenpeace

“A funny thing happened when Greenpeace and allies were forced to account for their claims in court. They started changing their tune. Their condemnations of our forestry practices “do not hew to strict literalism or scientific precision,” as they concede in their latest legal filings. Their accusations against Resolute were instead “hyperbole,” “heated rhetoric,” and “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion” that should not be taken “literally” or expose them to any legal liability. These are sober admissions after years of irresponsible attacks.”

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