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Monday, 22 October 2018

Conservative Leadership contest

Oh Dear. It looks like those 48 letters to Graham Brady, Chair of the '22, have already been written. But hang on, chaps, I'm not ready; I re-joined the party (after an absence of about 36 years) in mid August - which means I must wait until mid November to vote. I wonder if the qualifying date is the date the contest is announced, or the date the party membership actually votes? I think we should be told. 

David Davis would do very nicely as the Leader to get us through Brexit. Council estate, grammar school, SAS TA, then business for two decades until Parliament. Keen supporter of civil liberty and a man of proven principles. If the rest of the party won't accept Boris, David, then. Which brings me on to my fantasy cabinet.

Gove as Chancellor. Chancellors don't need to be popular, just clever. Keep Hunt at Health, and Sajid at the Home Office. Move Liam Fox to the FCO and give International Trade to Penny Mordaunt. And a revival of the Prescott / Clegg role for Boris as Deputy Prime Minister. 

Hammond of course must go, as must  Gauke, Clark, and Lidington. Brandon Lewis can become Minister for Plastics without a cabinet seat, with a remit to find ways of stopping the bloody Chinese, Asians, Africans and Indians fom throwing all their waste into the great rivers. 

And of course suitable postings must be found for our dedicated public servants Oliver Robbins and Sly Sedwill, neither of whom I think will wish to remain in Whitehall. 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Head-choppers release statement on Khashoggi murder

From the desk of the Chief Head Chopper (advisor: Mr Barrister Tony Blair)

"Mr Khashoggi came to the consulate to straighten out a visa matter. Unfortunately, after he was locked in the reception room, he took fright at a number of Saudi butchers attending purely in a ceremonial role, dressed in their colourful tribal costume of forensic overalls, masks and bone-saws. Mr Khashoggi unfortunately panicked and in his attempts to open the locked door, struggled with two security heavies who restrained him for his own safety. It was at that point that Mr Khashoggi stumbled against a head-chopping sword and regrettably amputated his fingers. Whilst attempting to administer first aid, the butchers inadvertently began to dismember him from the legs upwards. Mr Khashoggi did not survive the lamentable accident.

Lessons have been learned. The butchers are being sent for first-aid retraining." 

Martin Rowson in the Guardian  - Treason May and her Shitshow ticket an' all

Friday, 19 October 2018

May's stupidity has screwed the negotiations from the start.

Mrs May caved in to Brussels from Day One. There are many who believe it has all been a deliberate plot - a conspiracy to wreck Brexit. I don't think so. I think it is rather the stubborn stupidity of a woman who values her abilities far above what they're worth. If I could buy Mrs May's strategic appreciation for it's market value and sell it for what she herself reckons it's worth, I'd make my fortune. Excluding the few wise heads in the FCO, her own cabinet and a willing battalion of external experts from the Brexit process and using instead her self-deluding small team of ditherers, incompetents, fools, cowards, Quislings and Treasury dullards, May's complicit dags, she conceded to the EU on every point. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.

She's not fit to be Prime Minister of Great Britain. She's not fit to run a whelk stall.

Now she's faced with an impasse - either the UK stays part of the customs union for ever, a Satrap, vassal state, kow-towing to the anti-democracy that is the EU, or we split the Union. 

There's a third option. Screw them. No deal, and pick the bones out of that. 

Get rid of that Rasputin idiot Robbins. Let the Cabinet take charge. Keep the stupid woman as a figurehead, at least until next year; load her with bad-taste costume jewels and ridiculous, asinine shoes, but never, ever let her speak again.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Mandarin boss Sly Sedwill confuses with false equivalents

Sly chief mandarin Mark Sedwill is feeling a little public heat against his too-powerful central Statist mandarinate. Dominic Raab's boss Oliver Robbins in particular was excoriated by MPs frustrated that parliamentary democracy is being trumped by Sly Sedwill's unelected pro-EU consiglieri and are saying so openly for the first time.

Of course, as a diligent civil servant unable to answer back at criticism, the first thing Sly Sedwill does is write a letter to the Times warning critics of the mandarins to 'back off'. Or what? An invitation to journalists to the Cabinet Office building, where a forensic scientist and a team armed with electric bone-saws are waiting?  Remember, it is Sedwill and his cabal who are so cosy with both the EU and the KSA - against this nation's interests. Who exactly do they work for?

Sedwill can't resist raising a false equivalent. MPs and blogs such as this have criticised Robbins and Remoaner mandarins. The Head of HMRC has received a death threat from a nutter. Sedwill lost no time in linking these separate events in creating a false equivalent - “However, the anonymous sources on whose sniping it also draws should be ashamed of themselves, especially in a week when another senior civil servant reported having been threatened because of comments about Brexit implementation. This has to stop". Yep, straight from the Jo Cox school of "Jo was murdered by a raving nutter, therefore everyone who voted Brexit is a murderer". 

How the Hell has our civil service gone from a Rolls Royce to this dreary mediocre cabal of dullards, incompetents and non-achievers? Once Brexit is over, we must turn our attention to the much-needed reform of this failing sector.

Well, our senior armed forces and intelligence figures at least are fighting back. In response to Sly Sedwill's snipey whinge, they wrote their own letter to the Times.
Sir,
Sir Mark Sedwill, the acting cabinet secretary, is wrong (letter, Oct 16). It is not critics of the once great British civil service but members of that service in No 10 who need to cease and desist. Olly Robbins and his defence adviser Alastair Brockbank have serious questions of improper conduct to answer — Brockbank for the now infamous “Kit Kat tapes” on which he was secretly recorded seemingly advocating hoodwinking the 17.4 million Britons who voted Leave while covertly working to lock UK defence and security under EU control after Brexit; Robbins for failing to control him and, it appears, sanctioning the “technical note on external security” of May 24 that echoes the tapes.

Veterans for Britain has just published a full analysis of how the prime minister’s proposals put the autonomy of our armed forces in jeopardy and risk fatally compromising our “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance. It is by far the worst aspect of the Chequers deal and hitherto has not been made clear to the British public.

The EU has no business being in defence or security at all. These are either Nato or nation-to-nation matters. The UK should withdraw all proposals to the EU in these areas. The withdrawal agreement and proposed defence treaty would keep the UK under EU power permanently after the transition period. This is not what the people voted for.
Major-General Julian Thompson RM, chairman, Veterans for Britain; Sir Richard Dearlove, former chief of the Secret Intelligence Service; Rear-Admiral Roger Lane-Nott, naval board member VfB; Professor Gwythian Prins, academic board member VfB
Well done chaps. Both barrels and 10 bore to boot. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

'Head Choppers are really cuddly bunnies' says Con

It's good to see that Con Coughlin is back on form today with a glowing tribute to the selfless and altruistic kindness of the Saudis, who have nothing but British interests at heart. In return, says Con, we owe it to those kind, gentle head-choppers to defend them in 'the court of global opinion'. 

Not only are they under threat from the wicked crane-hangers, but they are currently the subject of unwarranted Yemeni aggression, says Con. If some journalist was hamburgered, and this is by no means proven, and it's possible that persons of Saudi extraction just may have been responsible for something that may or may not have happened, is no reason to obstruct KSA in exercising its kind and selfless consideration for a number of Brits who have grown immensely wealthy from the relationship, nor should our misplaced concerns over press freedom and human rights lead us to restrict those individuals from becoming ever richer from those relationships. 

Allowing the Saudis to subvert our society, corrupt our ministeries, stuff gold into the mouths of Quisling backers, pervert our laws and distort our economy to the detriment of the vast majority of British people is a good thing, says Con, and we should not allow the alleged, unproven primitive head-chopping butchery of Mr Khashoggi to impair it.

Daily Mail shares the evidence of Saudi barbarity
 

Monday, 15 October 2018

Plausible deniability - West decides to believe Saudi lies

It was the threat of oil at $200/bbl that erased any doubts in the President's mind. King Salman told him the silly Grand Vizier had done it and the US administration decided to believe it. Of course we understand, said the US ambassador. Your Grand Vizier was just a little overzealous in questioning Mr Khashoggi and instead of waving his biro about mistakenly reached for his chopping sword and chopped the poor journalist into several box-sized pieces by accident. It was a mistake anyone could have made. Phew. Well that's kicked the recession back into 2019 and we're still hoping something will turn up. 

The Saudi king has no doubt promised the harshest punishment to be meted out to the offender - his wives are to be banned from their London and Paris shoplifting trips for a month. 

Meanwhile the Salafist fanatics continue pouring Saudi blood money into Europe to subvert Islamic moderates, continue to export Islamist imams to preach hate and death and through bribes, kickbacks and corruption have fouled those charged with preventing such abuses. The dead of 9/11 cry out from their ashpit graves for justice, for the indictment of the Saudi backers of the massacre. And the Western press puffs out its cockerel chest in boast and braggadocio about press freedom and quietly closes down all news stories about the murder of a fellow journalist by the Saudis in their Turkish consulate. 

Gentlemen, you disgust me.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Con Coughlin 'owned' by Owen Jones

Readers of this blog will know we have long regarded with some humour Con Coughlin's defence pieces in the Telegraph; too many are clearly the result of a good lunch with an MoD official and a rehash of an MoD briefing to endow it with the gloss of journalism. His columns have always been useful in stating the official MoD policy without the MoD having to, erm, state its official policy. We thought everyone knew. 

Perhaps not. In a surprising piece of actual journalism, lefty polemicist Owen Jones has just taken Coughlin's entire journalistic career apart in a series of linked posts on Twitter. Con Coughlin is reported to have deleted his twitter account in response. If true and accurate, Jones has indeed 'owned' Coughlin, in the vernacular of the young. But two questions are foremost -

- Why was this not published in the Guardian? Was the story spiked on a 'dog don't bite bitch' journy-chums basis? 

- Will Coughlin now sue? 

I shall sit down with a large glass of port and re-read the whole thing again. This kind of waspish MSM in-fighting is just the thing to round-off Sunday.

Update - from this blog

27/9/17
"It's always good to know there are some certainties in life, and Con's willingness to parrot the message of his contacts at the MoD are amongst them. Sometime, though, during his most recent lunch, he must have confused the reality..."

24/12/16
"Poor old Con Coughlin must be coughing into his Christmas cornflakes this morning. Following instructions from his FCO and MoD masters, poor old Con has being doing his best to talk-up a war with Russia all year...."

6/1/16
"Con Coughlin has earned his establishment biscuit again with a crawling encomium to the sagacity, tolerance, wisdom and mercy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and urged us all to back the primitive head-choppers against the primitive crane-hangers..."

7/5/14
"One must have to be both wilfully stupid and amazingly gullible to get the defence correspondent's job on the Telegraph these days; EU shill Con Coughlin, perhaps repeating what some bloke told him in a bar, writes today..."

and so on. 


Saturday, 13 October 2018

No, Mrs May - We will NEVER accept your shoddy sell-out



If both Mrs May and the capos of the EU seriously believe that 17.4 million British voters will remain quiescent following a sell-out deal that screws our nation, our freedom, our economy and our rights they are away with the fairies. 

If the EU believe that Britain will be bound by treaties and agreements signed for Britain by a political cabal acting in direct contravention of their democratic mandate, a mandate conferred by the largest vote in our nation's history, they are deluded. Tomorrow, the day after, the year after, we will repudiate those shoddy and anti-democratic scraps of paper. 

Our government has an epochal opportunity to steer this realm on a new course, on a heading outwards towards the world, to the thrusting, bursting economic growth and vitality of Asia, India, South America, over the great oceans. If Mrs May abuses this chance and tries instead to ground us on a stinking rancid EU mudbank to rot like a hulk, she will not succeed. We will not allow this nation to be so abused, so mishandled. 

A political leader with an ounce of ability could have turned this into an opportunity to win national acclaim, international respect and achieve unity and political stability in the United Kingdom. Mrs May is not that person. A political leader of integrity and imbued with veracity who had promised the country many times that we were leaving the single market and customs union would have striven over every obstruction to keep their word. Mrs May is not that person. A political leader of courage, vision and probity would have led their party effectively despite the divergences of view within it, would have had the courage to appoint to their cabinet ministers who would support their promises made to the people of Britain. Mrs May is not that person. 

One message at least should be made crystal-clear to Mrs May and her shadowy global corporatist and EUphile backers - that we will NEVER accept this shoddy sell-out.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Wood - energy costs and pros and cons

I must admit I was a wood novice before I moved here - in the UK, logs came in a sack and were for Christmas as an illegal supplement to the smokeless coal I normally used in my London Edwardian fireplace. Here, firewood provides the Autumn interest. The people of the valley take long walks on the hillside paths, estimating the size and quality of their neighbours' wood reserves. In Africa, wealth may be measured in goats; here, it's the size of your timber stacks. This week they've been thick as flies on the church road as I've been working - and having to answer several queries a day about (a) how much I paid for my bulk logs (b) who from (c) wood condition and quality. The consensus is that this year I've paid neither too little nor too much, and most have nodded in quiet satisfaction that their nephew / brother in law / wife's sister's mother could have got the same a little cheaper. All my heating, cooking and hot water comes from wood - so how does it figure out?

An invaluable guide for the obsessional is the Wood Fuels Handbook pdf. I'll cut to the chase. 

I use only air dry red beech - which given the very dry alpine air here, samples out at between 11% and 14% moisture content. It burns hot and clean and with little ash residue. I buy it split but uncut for a cost of about £66 per srm or bulk cubic metre, containing around 400kg of wood. Each m3 is equivalent to around 1,850 kWh, so a cost of about 3.6p per kWh - comparable to gas and oil in the Uk at about 4p per kWh. However, the pros and cons are significant

Cons
====
- You have to feed the stoves. I have a 23kW central heating range cooker and a 7kW oven in the Winter living room. Each day you need to carry fuel indoors, and feed the beasts every 30/40 minutes. And no, you can't turn it on remotely with your i-phone at the airport so the house is hot when you get home. 

- You need to plan. You can't burn wood on a low setting - it buggers the flues and creates tar deposits. You need a high temperature burn, so you need to capture the heat in a thermal store which then supplies radiators and underfloor heating. Cooking and living need planning. 

- You need to clean the ash out and dispose of it daily.  

- You need somewhere to store it. 

Pros
====
- The smell of woodsmoke - as Austrian as a dirndl. I love it. 

- You don't have to pay what I do. Many in the valley scavenge wood for free or buy standing wood from the Austrian equivalent of the forestry commission for very little. Your tree is marked with a number, and it's up to you to fell it and remove it. The local Council doesn't bother clearing fallen branches - every home has a chainsaw*, and they disappear rapidly

- In a fuel emergency you can burn any dry wood in the stoves - floorboards, furniture ...

- Having all your winter fuel in advance, safe from strikes, Putin, price rises etc is wonderfully reassuring.

Ready for Winter ...
* and a rifle. Even sweet old ladies will have a Moisin-Nagant and 200 rounds in the hall cupboard. Like the US, Austrians have a right to bear arms - except pistols and semi-auto weapons. Unlike the US, they very rarely shoot eachother.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

May a 'walking corpse' say Conservatives

Posting is light this week as it's dry and warm and I have 6m3 of Red Beech to cut and stack in the little barn. 

When a Conservative MP writes "Conservative MPs may vote for a walking corpse, but the electorate will not" and hardly anyone notices, one knows it's a time of great schism in the Party. Yes, against all common sense, against all probabilities of self-survival, against the entire national interest and of benefit only to the global corporates and EU27 economies, both of which seem to inspire Mrs May more than her own party, she seems determined to pursue a Customs Union. I've never read so many voices counselling against this folly, so many fellow members of my Party for whom this would be a final step too far. Yet it seems the shoddy Robbins plan, dead everywhere in the UK and Europe except for Downing Street, is still twitching, absent a stake through its heart. Mrs May's stubborn stupidity will cost our Party and the country dear; as Allister Heath writes in the Telegraph (£)
Jeremy Hosking, a City financier and major Tory donor, has carried out private polling in a number of seats that shows “clear support” for a new party that would help achieve “what the electorate thought it would be getting”. Others are thinking carefully about similar options if May decides to keep us permanently in the customs union. A Vote Leave-style party could grab 30-35 per cent of the vote in swathes of the country, destroy the Tories and win seats even in a first past the post system.

I don’t wish for this outcome: Corbyn would seize power, with cataclysmic consequences. It would be infinitely better if the Tories could do what they do best, come to terms with Brexit, find a new language to sell capitalism and reinvent themselves, absorbing and civilising the new populism. The question is: do they have the guts to listen to the voters? Or do they have a political death wish?
In these desperate times, my only hope is for the Eurozone economy to collapse before Corbyn comes to power. 

Monday, 8 October 2018

Europe's ethnic powderkeg

Eighty years ago, on 29th September 1938, Britain's then Prime Minister signed an agreement with the German Leader, Adolf Hitler, that signed away large areas of western Czechoslovakia to the German Reich. The Czechs were not consulted. There was a pretext for the land grab; the areas in question were largely inhabited by Germans, Volksdeutsch, who were suffering from discrimination, harassment and victimisation at the hands of a nationalistic Czech nation. 

In 1945 the Czechs, together with every European nation that suffered under the Third Reich, took their revenge. Up to 14,000,000 ethnic Germans, most of them women and children, were expelled from homes and communities, some of which had been settled since the twelfth century, in the largest such movement in human history. Between 500,000 and 1,500,000 died * - of cold, hunger, mass murder, locked in cattle trucks or confined in the concentration camps that had just been liberated. This ethnic cleansing was carried out under the noses of  and with the full knowledge and consent of the allies. The extent of this shameful post-war inhumanity is little known, even in Germany. For my young German chums it puts into context oral history from older relatives, post-war episodes they had regarded as isolated incidents, as this post-war ethnic cleansing is barely taught in German schools for fear of stoking the embers of German nationalism.  

In our own lifetime's experience we have seen in the Balkans how swiftly Europe can return to savagery and primitivism; friends and neighbours, who had lived together for generations, turned on eachother on ethnic lines. The men shot, the women and children turned out on the road, their homes looted. 

It is not hard to understand why a resurgence of nationalism is so feared in Europe. It's something one can't see from the British Isles - but living here, it's easy to understand why ethnic nationalism, identitarianism and the like are so readily suppressed, so deeply distrusted. Take a look at this extract from a pre-1914 ethnographic map of Europe; 

Before the 20th century, national consciousness was minimal. Communities of ethnic Germans (pink on the map) thrived in eastern Europe, some areas the size of Norfolk, complete with German schools, cultural infrastructure and few problems with their neighbours. Versailles and the drawing of national borders on ethnic lines sowed the seeds of a violent nationalism, not only German but Polish, Czech, Hungarian and so on, that drove the ethnic hatreds of the second war. You may notice one small Volksdeutsch community on the map, to the west of Krakow. A place called Auschwitz.

And although I can understand why many of those who support the EU do so because they believe the EU's open borders, Shengen and freedom of movement can return us to those idyllic halcyon pre-1914 days of no passports and live where you will, too much has changed for that ever to be possible again. The twentieth century and its post-war ethnic cleansing established national identity more strongly than ever before; in the 19th century, Europe was an ethnic and linguistic hotch-potch. At the end of the twentieth a Ruthenian of German origin and a South Tyrolean of German origin could not even talk to one another. 

And now in the twenty-first century we walk a razor edge between proper patriotism and dangerous nationalism, between beneficent internationalism and destructive globalism. Already, the anti-tourist graffiti is going up on walls from Venice to Valencia, and the knuckle-dragging ethnic purity thugs are pulling on their boots. 

The EU changes course more slowly than the largest supertanker. The longer Brussels pursues the notion of a homogeneous Europe, a Europe devoid of national identities, the more they stoke the dangerous fires of nationalism in Europe's nations. Ever closer union - or attempts to force it on the people of Europe -  can have only one outcome that I can see, and that is the conflict that for seventy years we have avoided, through NATO and consumer capitalism. Please God they see their folly before it's too late. 

*Orderly and Humane - The expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War, R.M. Douglas, Yale University Press, 2012

Sunday, 7 October 2018

EU gearing up to implement Press Censorship

Like all anti-democratic authoritarian regimes, the EU can't stand criticism. A robust democracy such as our own makes space for savage satire, popular contempt, the slings and barbs of insult, the razor-pens of cruel cartoonists and the dagger-words of writers. The discomfort of our politicians and others who place themselves in positions of power over us is the price they pay for the nation's long-term political stability, the engagement of voters with politics and a healthy democracy. Hence, as I've examined below, Britain's lack of criminal penalties for defamation or abuse of politicians and State officials. 

However the EU, in the words of one of our finest comedy writers, don't like it up 'em. And they're gearing-up to censor it. 

First Věra Jourová, the unelected EU official in charge of Justice, indicated that the EU had plans for press regulation to deal with an impertinent press and media. Then, Herr Tusk complained about a 'lack of respect' by the British press for unelected EU officials (in this country, chum, respect must be earned). And finally, yesterday, Herr Juncker himself chipped in with “The British press is such that I will not miss it. It is, in part so, that they do not respect the human rights of political actors at all. Press freedom also has its limits … One should not bring people in privacy in distress.”. 

And there you have it. Press freedom has its limits - and those limits include taking the piss out of unelected EU officials. The EU has the power. And will use it to limit what the press says about them. I expect it's this sort of thing from the Sun that angers them;

Or perhaps these sort of headlines, disrespecting Herr Juncker's 'sciatica' -

But those unelected EU officials should take care. Every regime in history that censored what its people wrote and said about it fell. Just thank God that from March next year their nasty repressive little laws and corrupt courts hold no sway in Britain.

Edit
====
Jean Quatremer has much more on Drunker's 'sciatica' in the Speccie

Friday, 5 October 2018

Restoring British Liberalism means freedom from both Brussels and Whitehall

Mrs May, the consensus goes, did a fairly good job of reading-out at the party conference the words written for her. Most agree it has bought her at least another two weeks in power. But like one of those theatrical-cuisine meals with drizzles, one wonders after leaving the restaurant whether one has actually eaten at all. Allister Heath has pinned down the problem (£)
Ban, tax, regulate and intervene some more: Britain’s new modus operandi is grim indeed. The stream of silliness never ends; petty, meddling officialdom, empowered by the most controlling, puritanical government in living memory.

Only fashionable freedoms, such as the ability to get divorced at will, are promoted; unfashionable ones, such as the right to eat whatever we wish or to keep more of our hard-earned cash, are trampled upon in extraordinary fashion. There is ever-more red tape, and the tax-to-GDP ratio has reached its highest level in decades. This is neither real conservatism nor real liberalism: it is mushy, unprincipled, command politics, a regression to the Whitehall-knows-best mentality of the disastrous Harold Macmillan era.
This is the consequence of having since 2010 first the dilettante Cameron in Downing Street, and then the Whitehall puppet May. Neither have an innate understanding of the meaning of Conservatism or of true Liberalism. Until we finally break Whitehall's 1940s grip on power, a wartime-only grant of British freedom which ever since they have  refused to relinquish, we will never regain our true freedom.  

Meanwhile, Herr Tusk, one of the EU's unelected presidents, joins the Brussels grumbles about 'lack of respect' for the EU by the British press and commentators, after the Foreign Secretary's comparison of the EU to the Soviet Union. I for one have the greatest respect for the EU; in particular for
  • Being able to subvert billions in national taxes to return as 'gifts' 'grants' or 'investments' to those who paid the taxes in the first place
  • Allowing the fraudulent use, theft, peculation and false accounting of millions more in citizens' taxes in ways that shame crooked Russian oligarchs as GRU-type amateurs
  • As a public body, hiding, refusing access to, distorting, misrepresenting and omitting financial information at all levels, from crooked expenses to institutional malfeasance, to prevent any meaningful scrutiny of fiduciary probity
  • Enabling the capos to crookedly appoint as consigliere Martin Selmayr, a man whose principles are flexible enough not only to accept the appointment without shame but allow him to develop with Teutonic aggression the organisation's institutional corruption
  • Stifling, choking and suffocating democracy in Europe whenever Europe's citizens dare to exercise their fundamental Human Rights at the ballot box; universal suffrage and the secret ballot are the weapons the bent capos of the EU fear most, and are most determined to destroy
  • Destroying an entire bedrock European nation - Greece - to save the French and German banks. As Jonathon Bond writes in the Speccie, €230 bn of the €280bn 'aid' package for Greece has gone straight to EU banks without rescuing a single impoverished Greek.
Above all, I respect the EU's simple and powerful Mission Message "Ever Greater Power and Corruption".

Whitehall, of course, has been for forty years no more than the branch-office of the Berlaymont, deepening and furthering the crooked destruction of British liberal democracy by the EU. It is time to clear the thigh-deep shit from those Augean stables - but for that we need a Conservative Leader.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Boris - Chequers cheats the electorate

Text of the final part of Boris' speech - with apologies to ConHome
Full text at ConHome HERE

So now therefore is the time truly to take back control and make the elegant dignified and grateful exit the country voted for. This is the moment – and there is time – to chuck Chequers, to scrap the Commission’s constitutionally abominable Northern Ireland backstop, to use the otherwise redundant and miserable “implementation period” to the end of 2020 to negotiate the Supercanada FTA, to invest in all the customs procedures that may be needed to ensure continued frictionless trade, and to prepare much more vigorously for a WTO deal.

And if we get it right, then the opportunities are immense. It is not just that we can do free trade deals. In so many growth areas of the economy this country is already light years ahead. Tech, data, bioscience, financial services, you name it. We can use our regulatory freedom to intensify those advantages.

And of course our European friends know that is possible – and that is exactly why they want to constrain us. Yet I would argue that it is actually in their interests too, to have the fifth biggest economy in the world, on their doorstep, acting as a continuing brake and caution to the over- regulatory instincts that have held the EU back for so long. Instead of being relentlessly homogenised, we can actually learn from each other again, in the spirit of friendly emulation that inspired the renaissance of European civilisation.

If we get this right, it can be win-win for both sides of the Channel.

If we get it wrong – if we bottle Brexit now – believe me, the people of this country will find it hard to forgive.

If we get it wrong, if we proceed with this undemocratic solution, if we remain half-in half out, we will protract this toxic tedious business that is frankly so off-putting to sensible middle of the road people who want us to get on with their priorities.

If we cheat the electorate – and Chequers is a cheat – we will escalate the sense of mistrust. We will give credence to those who cry betrayal, and I am afraid we will make it more likely that the ultimate beneficiary of the chequers deal will be the far right in the form of UKIP.

And therefore the far Left in the form of Jeremy Corbyn – a man who takes money from Iranian tv, who can barely bring himself to condemn the Russian state for the Salisbury atrocity, who indulges anti-semitism, and who by opportunistically committing himself to the misery and farce of a second referendum, has finally revealed himself to be the patsy of the EU as well.

We cannot allow it to happen.

We must not allow it to happen.

And so for one last time, I urge our friends in government to deliver what the people voted for, to back Theresa May in the best way possible, by softly, quietly, and sensibly backing her original plan. And in so doing to believe in conservatism and to believe in Britain.

Because if we get it wrong we will be punished. And if we get it right we can have a glorious future.

This government will then be remembered for having done something brave and right and remarkable and in accordance with the wishes of the people.

May and Hammond preparing to sell-out Britain?

If the story in the Times is to be believed, May and her Remainer ally Hammond are preparing to betray the UK's interests in favour of the wishes of the global corporates. On past form she will deliver a twisted-mouthed mendacious speech at conference that will be aimed at placating Brexiteers with oily words and smooth insincerities whilst all the while caving into the demands made by an intransigent Brussels.

May and her Remainer team are simply not up to the job of defending the UK's interests. They trust neither the British people nor the assurances of our many friends across the world who wish us to do well. They would rather we remain a Satrap nation under the authoritarian rule of an anti-democratic and unelected cabal in Brussels. 

Make no mistake; if May attempts to follow the route suggested by the Times, our children and grandchildren will weep bitter tears of regret at her betrayal of their future.
 

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Global Corporates ramp up Brexit scares

The biggest threat to the future success of the United Kingdom is pinning our economic hopes on the global corporates, yet this is exactly what Mrs May, under the brainwashing of the CBI and Oliver Robbins, is trying to use Brexit to secure. Neither are the globals themselves backwards in adding their own lies to Project Fear; the latest last week were from the international car makers. 

What they forgot to mention is that in ten years or so their cars will be banned for sale in Europe, their plants just so much scrap metal and wasteland, and their vast Euro workforces all redundant. That's not the fault of Brexit but of technological progress. An electric powered car has just something like 15% of the parts of an internal combustion engined one. So why screw the entire British economy, as they want May to do, to prolong their JIT uselessness by a few more years? The sooner the UK bites the bullet and attracts investment into 100% UK assembled electric vehicles the better. 

It's not just carmakers. We've reached peak global. The corporates are simply unable to increase their profitability from their operations by a single cent more - only a continuous process of mergers and takeovers generates new money, and we're at the end of that road. We're way past Standard Oil, and now only a radical rethink of Conservative capitalism can rescue the British economy. Sadly, Mrs May, with her limited understanding and abilities, is not the Prime Minister to head this process. Tenacity and resilience are only positive virtues when exercised in following the right path.

Steve Baker in the Telegraph today (£) and Janet Daley yesterday are both singing the same hymn. A party for a young, energetic, entrepreneurial, internationalist and enterprising Britain doesn't shackle itself to the dead-weights of the terminally-ill global corporates and the CBI. Our future Conservative membership is waiting for a party that articulates their hopes and aspirations, their knowledge and world-view, yet Mrs May wants to lead the party into failure and error, wants, like Corbyn, to lead a party stuck in the 1970s and unable to progress. 

For the sake of Brexit, and for the sake of Britain, she must now resign and hand over to a Leader who can do the job.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Back to the Future

"Thanks Gloria. And two digestives this afternoon, eh? It being Friday?"

"Tea's just mashing, Mr Scroggins. Shall I bring cups for the assembly line shop stewards?"

"No, No. We'll be here all day. And porcelain upsets them. Show them in". As he looked out of his  steel Crittal windows over the vast Leyland car plant, George Scroggins' heart surged with pride, pride at the haze from the leaking steam pipes, the cracked and patched asbestos cement roofs, the grimy and cracked windows and the plywood-patched skylights. From this plant came the finest automobile in Britain - the Austin-Morris Allegra. The noise of  the broken door closer woke him from his reverie.

"Come in! Come in! Arthur, Frank. Sit thee down.  Now I don't expect this to be a lengthy meeting ..."

"That's why you always see us at three-fifteen on Fridays, Mr Scroggins. To be fair."

"That's not wholly true, Frank, no, no .... now this is about young Donald Higginbottom I gather?"  

"Foreman suspended him, yes. Unwarranted victimisation. We're demanding full restitution."

"But Arthur, he was fixing gearbox gaiters with two inch nails. He ruined nearly two hundred cars before Quality Control noticed, half of which have already been sold."

"Not his fault, Mr Scroggins. Supply shop ran out of that size of machine screws, and the screw shop said they weren't scheduled to turn any more until November. Donald was on gaiter bonus for twenty gaiters a day - not fixing gaiters would have taken food from his childrens' mouths. So he used what he had. You can't blame the lad"

"Arthur, I have to support my foremen. I have to uphold the suspension."

"We'll bring Number Two Line, the rubber shop, the window shop and the carpet-cutters out unless he's revoked. Higginbottoms are big in the eastern sheds."

"Wait wait Frank. There's no need to be precipitous. Digestive biscuit? We've had two strikes already this month, if you recall. Now what if I say he's only provisionally suspended, permitted to work as normal until his hearing, on full pay, but nominally suspended?"

"On full bonus? Even if screw shop can't supply gaiter screws?"

"Yes yes. Alright? We'll ask the Welsh Megra plant if they can lend us some screws. Otherwise we'll go with the two-inch nails. Now about next month's cars. What have we got?"

"There's plenty of bright red upholstery vinyl, so we can switch all production to that. On the paint side, there's four thousand gallons of that yellowy-brown - 'Curry' the paint shop named it."

"Head office vetoed 'Curry' as an Allegra colour, Frank. It's not the best word, is it? Reminds me of that German mustard we had at BMW last year ... I know! Let's rename it the German for mustard - Gloria! What's German for mustard?"

"Moutarde, I think, Mr Scroggins"

"That's it. Tell the dealers they'll all be getting Moutarde Allegras with pillar-box red upholstery next month, Gloria. Now, lads, was there anything else?"

"There was a suggestion that in future customers might be able to choose their own body and seat colours, Mr Scroggins. And that the waiting lists might be cut from four months to ten days"

"Bloody scaremongering. Don't pay any heed to that rubbish, Frank. I promise you, under Mr Corbyn, such things will never happen!"      

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Trump speech - the bits you won't read in the papers or hear on the BBC

The text of Trump's speech reads as though written by two separate people. There's the Steve Bannon bits, all bull and braggadocio, pumped with adolescent hormones, in which the Donald claims that his conker is a sixer and will take on all-comers. Then there are the Trump administration's strategic drivers, delineating clearly an intellectual vision of America's place in the world. The quotes below are from the latter passages. 

UNITED NATIONS, 25th September 

Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth.

I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.


Many nations in this hall will agree that the world trading system is in dire need of change. For example, countries were admitted to the World Trade Organization that violate every single principle on which the organization is based. While the United States and many other nations play by the rules, these countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises to rig the system in their favor. They engage in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer, and the theft of intellectual property.
 

But those days are over. We will no longer tolerate such abuse. We will not allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens.

I spoke before this body last year and warned that the U.N. Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends.

Our Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken.

So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council, and we will not return until real reform is enacted.

For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support in recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process. We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy.

America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism. Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from other, new forms of coercion and domination.

It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe that we reject the interference of foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs. The United States has recently strengthened our laws to better screen foreign investments in our country for national security threats, and we welcome cooperation with countries in this region and around the world that wish to do the same. You need to do it for your own protection.

We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests, just as we ask other countries to respect our own right to do the same. That is one reason the United States will not participate in the new Global Compact on Migration. Migration should not be governed by an international body unaccountable to our own citizens.


The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable. As part of our reform effort, I have told our negotiators that the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget.


In America, we believe in the majesty of freedom and the dignity of the individual. We believe in self-government and the rule of law. And we prize the culture that sustains our liberty -– a culture built on strong families, deep faith, and fierce independence. We celebrate our heroes, we treasure our traditions, and above all, we love our country.


Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all.

When we do, we will find new avenues for cooperation unfolding before us. We will find new passion for peacemaking rising within us. We will find new purpose, new resolve, and new spirit flourishing all around us, and making this a more beautiful world in which to live.

So together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat. And let us come here to this place to stand for our people and their nations, forever strong, forever sovereign, forever just, and forever thankful for the grace and the goodness and the glory of God.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Press censorship: Europe's most repressive nations

It was the Sun that set the standard back in the days when John Major was trying to fool the UK into giving away our financial freedom to Europe; 'Up Yours, Delors' was the unequivocal message that set the tone for a generation. And last week the paper was again on a burn, with its depiction of Herr Macron and Herr Tusk as armed gangsters:-


The Sun in its inimitable way embodies all that's good and right about press freedom in the UK - indeed, so used are the British to the exercise of this form of critique of the great and good, the entire population has taken it up on social media. Woe betide the inflated ego of any self-loving politician, the self-worth of dreary, humourless self-regarding Eurocrats and the pomposity of third-rate bling medal collectors, whose sciatica must surely blind them to the absurdity of their vulgar Ruritanian pretentions.

In fact, we probably regard the freedom with which the British press, British satirists and cartoonists and British sketch writers portray self-regarding nobs as being normal, Liberal and proper, but this is far from the case. The Sun's headline was just too much for the delicate sensibilities of the EU's unelected official in charge of Justice -  Věra Jourová, whose name must have been cut-and-pasted a thousand times by those too lazy to hunt for unfamiliar HTML code. You might think having an EU official in charge of Justice is a bit like having an Admiral on the government payroll in Switzerland, but there you are. Vera, let's call her, is distinctly unhappy, particularly with the Sun, and as she told the Guardian, she has a post-Brexit plan for a "European approach to media based on quality and smart regulation" that will deal with this British lèse-majesté.

I read that as her desire for an EU firewall that shuts off from the gentle sensibilities of the unelected masses in Brussels any access to the Sun. In fact, shuts off from the EU any foreign papers, news channels, blogs or other media that fail to recognise just how brilliant all the unelected officials are. Well, good luck to her. The EU is already far gone down that road; two images for you. The first, those nations in which it's a criminal act to be rude about a foreign Head of State, the second, those in which Defamation generally is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment (dark red) or other penalties on conviction (light red)  



For the former, Germany, Denmark and Poland have the most draconian sentences of up to five, four and three years respectively. Poland will also jail citizens for three years for insulting their own Head of State - and the liberal little Netherlands will bang you up for five years for the same. 

I'd suggest that nations that appear on both maps are Europe's most repressive countries. Step up to the Iron Mask, then, Germany, Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden. If you're a politician from these nations, Britain's unbelievably lax press laws must chafe something dreadful.

Never mind, dears. From next year you can cut yourselves off in fairyland and enjoy awarding eachother colourful little medals. Until the whole edifice comes tumbling down.

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Robbins Plan is dead. Time for a change of course.

We all knew that the Robbins Plan was dead in the water. It was rejected by the EU and Mrs May's own colleagues, by the intelligent press and by grassroots Brexiteers long before Mrs May started packing for her trip to Salzburg. Everyone knew, it seems, except Mrs May herself. Her evident open shock and distress at yesterday's rejection made clear she actually believed beforehand that it had some realistic chance of success.  

And whatever one's regard for Mrs May's intellect or her judgement, it's impossible not to admire her tenacity and resilience. The sheer boorishness and bullying incivility of the EU capos yesterday will have sparked a tiny flame of resentment in the hearts of many non-Brexit Britons; she may be a bloody useless plank, but she's our bloody useless plank. Thank you, gents. 

Likewise, many non-Brexit Brits will also have been irritated at being told that the EU capos want us to vote again, after they've smashed the windows and keyed the car and left a horse's head in blighty's bed. Malta is fast becoming a failed State, run by a criminal cabal with the island's politicians in their pockets, a place where inquisitive journalists can be murdered with impunity. I'd suggest Joseph Muscat would be better employed trying to restore justice and the rule of law to his mafia-fouled little country. And Herr Macron has been listening for too long to his granny's quavering fears.

The Federasts simply don't understand the 'hearts and minds' thing, do they? With every move they alienate more and more Brits, create greater hostility and make a future relationship more difficult. 

Well, I can't tell you what the deal should be, but I'm confident there will be some last-minute accommodation, if we don't blink first. A Federast was quoted yesterday as saying 'don't think it's five minutes to midnight; it's more like half-past eight'. Well, I'd put it at about a quarter past ten myself, but point taken. Now will someone please convince Mrs May that we need a change of plan?

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

EU enables remote customs clearances - no hard borders - in Austria

You will have missed it - it's slipped right off the main news radar - but the EU is just enabling all customs clearances and taxes for all goods entering and leaving the EU through the Italian port of Trieste to be paid, accounted and administered in the small Austrian town of Fürnitz, some 200km away. Yes, that's right. Trieste customs will now be based in Austria. 


During the pilot phase, the organisers wrote
Trieste has a harbor with a space problem due to the narrow coastal area towards the city. Fürnitz is ideally located at the junction of the Baltic-Adriatic axis (Gdansk-Warsaw-Vienna-Villach-Trieste-Venice-Bologna) and the Tauern axis (Munich-Salzburg-Villach-Ljubljana-Zagreb-Belgrade-Sofia-Istanbul). In order to prevent delays in customs clearance and to reduce the burden on the environment, the Interreg project Smartlogi now wants to work on new forms of intelligent logistics, which should, among other things, enable a cross-border customs corridor.

The port of Trieste has a great interest in passing on goods as quickly as possible, since the area is limited by the nearby city of Trieste. Inevitably, loads are loaded onto trucks and transported across the streets. Numerous administrative and technological challenges currently prevent a so-called "modal shift" (shifting traffic from one mode of transport to the other) from road to rail.

In the Smartlogi project, the LCA in Fürnitz, which is perfectly connected to the various main traffic routes, would like to develop into a close cooperation partner of the Port of Trieste. The project is being funded with a total volume of approx. 1.3 million euros from the Interreg program Austria-Italy. In addition, the equity shares of the Carinthian project partners are being co-financed by the Carinthian Economic Development Fund (KWF).
'Intelligent logistics' and 'customs corridors' mean that borders don't actually have to be located at borders, and that queues of trucks and containers can easily be avoided with advance clearances, computer tracking and so on - so that customs clearances are just an information exchange formality, rather than the physical impounding and holding of objects and vehicles at ports and border crossings. 

ORF reported yesterday
Great opportunity for Fürnitz

This is definitely a great opportunity for Fürnitz, said economic officer Ulrich Zafoschnig (ÖVP). He had received information from the Ministry of Finance that the necessary intergovernmental agreements should be made in September. Theoretically, customs clearance in Fürnitz could start this year, according to Zafoschnig.
If this can be done for Trieste, why not for Ireland? Why can't Ireland's custom clearance point be in Calais, or Hamburg even? Why shouldn't there be a customs corridor from Dublin to Dover?

I rather think this proves that the Irish Border Issue isn't actually an issue. I wonder if anyone's told Mr Robbins that he doesn't have to surrender the UK's sovereignty to Brussels after all?

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Rocks and hard places - digital regulation

I don't know what the collective term is for Youtube channels, infomercials, newstainment, multi-channel infotainment, e-pinion and the like - 'digital' is too encompassing, 'media' too finely drawn. 'Content' seems to be a useful portmanteau sort of word. There used to be certain checks and standards for those who created and disseminated Content. Newspaper and magazine ownership and distribution, broadcasting bandwidth governance and licencing, professional journalists, barriers to entry including technical complexity, equipment cost and limited capacity. Making a video use to be a matter of  a camera, lighting and sound crew, an offline editor, an online editor and a facility with half a million quids worth of Beta SP machines, editing suites, reference monitors and so on. Then came processing power, software and easy GUIs that meant a video recorded and edited on an Apple laptop could rival in look and feel one costing £2k a broadcast minute to make.  

Regulation has yet to catch up with what has happened. If I want to broadcast a three minute speech, I need a government licence for a digital broadcast radio channel, a transmitter, and a roomful of compliance and diligence stuff and every breath I broadcast is subject to the most minute scrutiny. If I put the same speech on the web as a podcast, there are no restrictions, no standards and no regulation whatsoever bar the criminal law. One can argue that broadcast bandwidth, for the 'push' media, is a limited and valuable resource that must be centrally controlled and rationed, whilst internet bandwidth, for the 'pull' media, is effectively unlimited and use is determined by market forces, i.e. popularity. 

Why should these differences be a problem? Can't we live with the way things are? well, perhaps today we can - but technology and economics mean the boundaries between the transmission mechanisms of exactly the same Content are being increasingly blurred. Established broadcasters want to regulate the Wild West of the internet to replicate the analogue regimes under which they toil. Authoritarians strive to impose their own bigotry. And all the while champions of free speech, Libertarians and democrats are resisting State control, censorship and the economic cudgels of the global corporates all seeking to 'own' the internet. 

Personally, I don't buy the guff that the internet is 'harming millions'. The few sensitive souls getting the vapours because someone was rude to them on Facebook seem the same sort of folks who used to swoon at the sight of a nipple on 'Play for Today'. Yet I also want to take-down ISIS videos of lads from East Ham hacking-off people's heads, sick paedo filth or grainy footage of dogs tearing eachother to pieces. These views are not inconsistent; the latter repulsive Content types are all contrary to existing law. We don't need new laws - we just need a mechanism for we, internet users, to apply the existing law. We don't need need nine-hundred police officers crouched over glowing screens - we need ways in which we, Peel's citizen police, can act ourselves to exclude the already-illegal stuff whilst leaving the hurty words intact.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Electoral Commission has lost popular trust

It's not the crime that gets 'em, they say, but the cover-up. In an excoriating judgement, the High Court has found in the Vote Leave expenses case that
For the reasons given, we conclude that the Electoral Commission has misinterpreted the definition of “referendum expenses” in section 111(2) of PPERA. The source of its error is a mistaken assumption that an individual or body which makes a donation to a permitted participant cannot thereby incur referendum expenses. As a result of this error, the Electoral Commission has interpreted the definition in a way that is inconsistent with both the language and the purpose of the legislation
The case was brought by 'Remain' on the grounds that the Electoral Commission had given the Leave campaign duff advice based on an inadequate understanding of the law of which they could also have taken advantage had they been given the same duff advice. You will recall that as a consequence of the Commission's misleading Leave and its general incompetence, it crowed like a cock when it itself judged Leave guilty of breaching the regulations and imposed a fine to equal that levied on the LibDems for their breaches. 

Reading the court's judgement one finds a litany of arse-covering, post hoc rationalisation, weasel reasoning and straw-clutching on the part of the Commission. 
"...The position of the Electoral Commission on this central issue was somewhat elusive. In its summary and detailed grounds of resistance to the claim, the Commission denied that Vote Leave had incurred expenses by making the AIQ Payments but refrained from identifying any criterion which, if met, would signify that these were “expenses incurred” by Vote Leave. The Commission submitted that making a payment is not the same as incurring an expense and that making a donation is not the same as incurring an expense. But counsel for the Commission did not at that stage offer any positive explanation of what does constitute “incurring an expense” within the meaning of the legislation....
 
The Electoral Commission has advanced an argument that, even if (contrary to its primary position) the payments in issue in this case were expenses incurred by Vote Leave, they were not incurred “in respect of” advertising but only in respect of making donations to Mr Grimes....
 
It is not easy to see how, on the Commission’s case in these proceedings, its own guidance can be correct....

Ultimately, the position of the Electoral Commission on what amounts to an “expense incurred” within the meaning of section 111 of PPERA appeared to offer little improvement on the well known elephant test of “I know one when I see one”. That is not a satisfactory approach in circumstances where a person who reports referendum expenses incorrectly is potentially guilty of a criminal offence.
When asked to address these scenarios during oral argument, the initial response of Mr Gordon QC on behalf of the Electoral Commission was to decline to do so on the ground that he did not want to comment on hypothetical examples. That response was unconstructive, as the use of hypothetical examples is a standard method for testing the logic of a legal argument...

It is difficult to resist the conclusion that in seeking to draw this distinction the Electoral Commission was, in Aristotle’s phrase, “maintaining a thesis at all costs” ...
It is as clear as possible a condemnation of both the Commission's failings during the campaign  and its actions subsequently against Vote Leave, which have raised widespread accusations of anti-Leave spite, bias and partiality. 

However, rather than bearing this humiliation in silence with bowed head, the Commission sought to justify its condemnation by the court with a PR offensive -


A democracy needs an authoritative and trusted arbiter of the probity of democratic actions, an unbiased and expert authority vested with moral and legal trust and confidence. Simply, the present Electoral Commission has failed those criteria on every point. It is, as the court found, not fit for purpose as currently constituted and must be reformed. That means both the professional officers, and the appointed Commissioners - who fail utterly to represent the electorate as a whole.



Friday, 14 September 2018

Britain proves its Liberalism in driving licence plans

Yesterday's no-deal Brexit warnings, which set out that UK drivers would in future need either one or two International Driving Permits, at up to £5.50 per year, to drive in the EU, also proved in spades our nation's innate Liberalism. 

We could of course have answered the EU's illiberal and authoritarian spitefulness like for like - requiring EU drivers to be equally inconvenienced when visiting the UK. But on balance I far prefer our superior moral position, proving our natural Liberalism and our position as Europe's most civilised and tolerant nation. Official advice is that:

Don't grouse. On such a trivial matter, it's really far, far better to use the opportunity to demonstrate our moral superiority and the EU's puerile and petulant spite. Martin Selmayr may hide in his Brussels bunker dreaming up nasty little 'punishments' for Britain, but we're really far bigger than that and won't do the same in return.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

The Electoral Quotient - a big issue with a boring name

The faux outrage of Labour, Welsh or Scots MPs at the publication of the Boundary Commission's final report is theatrical, at least in part. Conformity of constituency boundaries with a uniform number of voters in each - the EQ, or Electoral Quotient - has long been outside developed nation standards. An EQ of +/-5% is just about acceptable, but advanced democracies such as New Zealand achieve +/-3%. For years we have been way outside even the farthest limits, with the vote of an elector in one constituency being worth the votes of two voters in another. Any complaint at correcting this anomaly is an anti-democratic whinge. The threat to democracy is not from having a fair and robust democratic system but in gerrymandering voters equality to pander to the self interest of MPs who don't want to lose their jobs. 

Let's be clear. MPs are expendable; lose one, and there's a thousand more individuals neither less nor more capable ready to take their place. As individuals they are unremarkable and replaceable. It is the form and function of the parliament, the way the Commons works that is important. As Churchill noted, the confrontational layout of the chamber is vital, two sword lengths apart, as is the small size. Churchill opined that a chamber that never had seats sufficient to sit all members at once was an advantage -
... a conversational style of speaking, which has long been held to be the model of English Parliamentary life. How much better this is than foreign assemblies, where they all sit in a semi‐circle, and everyone has a place, or even a desk, which he can bang when he is displeased, and where every speaker goes up to harangue an audience scattered through a large arena. The essential of keen debate is the sense of a crowd, clustering together, craning forward, gathering round the speaker, with the cheers flung back from side to side.
The total number of MPs is also fairly critical. Proposals to reduce the number of seats from 650 to 600 featured in both the 2015 and 2017 Conservative manifestos. The essential elements of the Parliament would be preserved, and representation would not be diminished beyond comparative standards of democracy in the advanced nations.

Two matters however must be addressed. One is the social worker role that has fallen to MPs, who now spend much time intervening in social welfare and immigration disputes between their constituents and the State. This is not a beneficial or useful use of their time and attention, which should be devoted to the business of the legislature. Secondly is the sheer number of government posts, including the scores of junior appointments that bind an ever increasing number of MPs to the government, hobbling the scrutinising function of the House.  

Correcting the EQ is the last of the measures taken by Conservative governments since 2010 to correct the drift of our democratic systems under Labour into crookedness and democratic corruption. We will all be better off for it.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Taxing and regulating the global corporates

I am wholly and utterly committed to low tax and efficient regulation. However, tax and regulation must above all be fair and equitable - that means low tax and light regulation for all. Our complex system has increasingly delivered a system that burdens SMEs, and firms with no significant exports, and favours global corporates. The cost of compliance with EU regulation is a case in point; a multinational can afford an entire department churning out environmental, risk management, human relations and equal opportunities policies, method statements, sustainability assessments and reports on complex systems of internal monitoring. A maker of hand-built sports cars operating out of three small industrial sheds in Suffolk, with one girl on reception and another in the back office, can't hope to churn out the same box files of redundant officiousness. 

Likewise tax. A firm with a plant, a site, skilled workers, resources and substantial investment in the UK will always be at a disadvantage to the tax gypsies - the global corporates - who can pitch up in their generic Richard Rogers corporate HQ, install temporary staff and a few lawyers, and stay just as long as they're not bothered. The EU's senior unelected official was thrown out of office in Luxembourg (a small European nation about the size of Seattle) for encouraging corrupt tax avoidance that allows global corporates to harvest rich profits from one EU nation but pay minimal tax in another. And the scam isn't confined to the EU. 

The advantages enjoyed by the global corporates mean they are crowding out national competition, enjoying supernormal profits and creating global oligopolies. The rest of us, meanwhile, pay taxes to build the transport and communication networks, the courts and legal systems, the schools and universities that they use for free without responsibility or care. 

It may be legal, but it's wrong. And most folk can't console themselves that their pension funds are investing in these rootless and amoral firms and enjoying the profits - and those that can, may care to calculate that the potholed roads, the city centres lost to armed gangs and a generation that can't afford to buy their own homes just aren't worth the return. 

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Happy Jewish New Year - Rosh Hashanah!

Howard Jacobson in the Jewish Chronicle eviscerates Corbyn. Worth a New Year dram or two and a toast to our Judaic citizens.
"We know what an antisemite look like. He wears jackboots, a Swastika arm-band, and shouts Juden Raus; Jeremy Corbyn wears a British Home Stores vest under his shirt and is softly spoken.  Antisemites accuse Jews of killing Jesus; Corbyn is an atheist and seems not to mind if we did or didn't. Whether that's because Jesus was Jewish and killing him meant one less Jew in the world, is not for me to say.  And - and - he doesn't deny the Holocaust..."