The Fallout Continues

Deliverance Day minus 16. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways are reported to be calling for compensation and saying that lessons must be learned from the shutdown of UK airspace. Their claims are based on the assertion that they could have continued flying through light ash areas during the eruption by the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. These claims must be resisted as it will be the taxpayers who have to put their hands in their pockets. Having bailed out the banks we must not be asked to do the same for the airlines. Once again the free-marketeers come running to dip in to the public purse as soon as they run, or in this case fly, in to trouble.

Henri Goudru, UN scientific adviser with forty years experience studying volcanic eruptions, says “In the absence of reliable facts the only thing to do was stop planes flying due to the risk of suffering serious engine damage”. The airlines are more concerned with their balance sheets and are cavalier about the safety of their passengers, even though they say safety is a priority. The volcano is still erupting but spewing less ash and today the National Air Traffic service closed airspace over the Orkney and Shetland Islands due to the density of volcanic ash. Nothing was taking off but they were accepting inbound flights to get them on the ground. It will be another three days before the wind direction changes to a south-westerly and the ash is blown away from us. The danger is still there.

A NASA satellite has captured images of the volcano and at nearby Fimmvorduhals with visible heat signatures of lava at their summits. The Icelandic Meteorological Office is closely monitoring the neighbouring and more dangerous Katla volcano but as yet there are no signs that it is reawakened by the current activity.  Katla at the southern tip of Iceland is hidden beneath the Myrdalsjokull ice cap.  Professor Pall Einarsson of the Institute of Earth Sciences warns that when Katla erupts it will unleash floods equal to the size of the River Amazon in addition to the ash plume. The UK and Ireland would be the first to be affected and there would also be long term consequences resulting from the Atlantic conveyor being cut off.   The airlines have now been given the responsibility for assessing the risk and deciding whether to fly.  What price passenger safety then?  We really should be taking this much more seriously.

The political fallout from the Government’s failure to act decisively rumbles on. The Foreign Office and David Milliband are under scrutiny. Still no sign of the coaches at Madrid Airport but the FO claim one hundred and fifty can be made available to repatriate delayed air passengers. Even though flights are restarting it could be May before the airlift would be completed. The Ark Royal and Ocean are still lingering in the English Channel. The Royal Navy should have been asked to dispatch them to Northern Spain and with the Albion operated a shuttle service back to Plymouth. It would have been a good training exercise. What this demonstrates is that because of the run down of the RN we cannot put a Task Force together. The UK is left looking feeble. If US citizens had been in the same position the Sixth Fleet would have been deployed in force.

With the polls showing Labour in third position they are getting desperate. Their own internal polls must be confirming that they are losing the Election. Not only trailing but completely out of touch. That is the only reason why Gordon Brown can be proposing a progressive alliance with the LibDems to keep the Conservatives out. There has been some indication that the Blairite wing sees their future with the LibDems if the unions gain control of Labour after an Election defeat. You can be sure that Lord Mandelson is already paving the way for such a move. The resulting Progressive Democrats would be a more extreme version and something pro-lifers should fear. This election will see the start of a major political realignment in the UK, including a Christian Democrat Resurgence. We should not be surprised if Labour comes third. The evidence was there in the European Parliament Election last year even though there was a low turnout. I repeat what we said then:-

“The overall voter turn out in the EP election was only 35% in GB and Labour had 15.7% of the vote. That means they have the support of 5.5% of the electorate. Even that was more than they deserved after reneging on their manifesto promise to hold a referendum on the European Constitutional Treaty. It just goes to prove that you can fool some of the people all of the time. Beaten into third place by the Conservative Party and United Kingdom Independence Party, there was a clear geographical divide. In Wales, North West, Scotland, North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands they came second. In West Midlands they came third; and in Eastern they came fourth. In the South East and South West they came fifth behind the Green Party. Keep an eye on how things develop in the West Midlands as it is a barometer of voting intentions.

The results in the local elections were even more pronounced with Labour losing control of all the county and unitary authorities. This led to renewed calls within the Labour Party for a change of leadership. It does not seem to have dawned on the Parliamentary Labour Party that there has been a change of leadership. Mad Elson is firmly in control as he manipulates 35 out of 43 policy areas, has a gigantic merged government department, has acquired an impressive list of titles including that of Lord President of the Council, and has been designated with the newly created position of First Secretary of State. This man has repeatedly resigned in disgrace from the Cabinet and is unelected. His loyalties are to New Labour and the European Project with Tony Blair as President. His raison d’etre is to keep Labour in power long enough for the Lisbon Treaty to be ratified by all the States and Blair installed as the first President of the European Council. Concern for the wellbeing of our Country comes low on his list of priorities.

His presence on the political scene is an affront, but it is merely symptomatic of our broken democracy and the growing totalitarianism of a government that has micro support. The Government’s stranglehold over the House of Commons has surfaced for all to see. Gordon Brown may have been appalled and expressed surprise about the MPs expenses scandal, but expenses and allowances are just one of the methods used to control the way MPs vote. The Commons Speaker, who was a Labour placeman, was complicit in the scandal but a motion of no-confidence in him could not proceed unless the Government granted time for the debate. Motions approved by the Commons are not even binding on the Government. The Commons are not in control of their own affairs and business. This is not true democracy.”

Blair for President might have been a step too far. In 1951 and February 1974 the General Elections produced distorted results and even though the Liberals had minute shares of the vote they were in a position to wield power beyond their standing. Luckily we did not have proportional representation. In 1951 the Labour Party had 48.7% of the vote but only 295 seats and lost. The Conservatives had fewer votes at 48% but gained more seats at 321. Nationally there was only a 224,000 vote difference which was extremely close. The situation was reversed in 1974 when Labour were elected with 37.2% of the vote and gained 301 seats. The Conservatives had a bigger share of the vote at 38.1% but fewer seats at 296. There was only 267,000 votes difference. Labour needed Liberal support but another General election was held in November 1974. This 2010 Election could produce another historical {or hysterical} result.

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