Friday, 20 April 2018

Have the global corporates robbed Brexit?

Global firms, wherever headquartered, have more in common with eachother than with the country of their parent letterhead. The members of the European Round Table, and of the CBI, are their own country; they have no allegiances beyond shareholders, no mission except growth and profit and no morality beyond the gutter. They exist in an inextricably intertwined web of mutual ownerships and territorial carve-ups, and are as predatory as gonorrhoea as they infect and consume smaller market competition. They crowd out SMEs and national firms, use wealth to bully and coerce mergers and takeovers and are beyond the control of national governments. Our pensions, savings and investments are dependent upon their profitability. 

Whatever they are, they're not capitalists. 

Conventional theory has it that capitalism arose in England in the 16th century but I long ago found it thriving in the 13th century. Rowland Parker's 'Men of Dunwich', a treasure of my bookshelves for many decades, uses ancient pipe rolls and mediaeval manuscripts in our historic archives as the author turns detective. Why did Ada Ringulf, with a cottage by St Peter's, pay only ¼d rent a year when neighbours paid 1½d?* Parker thinks he knows. Anyway, Dunwich merchants, shipowners with vessels we know as 'cogs', would speculatively take cargoes of wool, barley, cloth  to Europe and the Baltic and return with iron, wine, silk and spices. Profits could be handsome - but the loss of a cog to a hostile port, pirates, minor warlords or official blackmail could ruin a man and his family overnight. So merchants offset their risk by investing in eachother's cogs and cargoes, risking only a fifth or a sixth on each voyage. Parker has the evidence. That's capitalism. And it was happening three hundred years earlier than thought. Capitalism means risk, even if it's managed risk. What the global corporates do is risk free; monopolistic, monopsonistic or oligopolistic, they have a licence to make money with virtually no risk, by virtue of their size and power. 

12th Century seal of Dunwich showing square-rigged cog with furled sail.
Facebook has yesterday, with the flick of a button, taken 1.5 billion users from the jurisdiction of the ECJ and EU data protection law to that of the US, just by shifting a paper HQ from Dublin. The new EU law imposes swinging fines for big US tech companies, so they move paper domicile. 

And so the Telegraph carries two stories today that depress even my usual optimism. The first is Jeremy Warner's belief (£) that the markets - read global corporates - have decided how Brexit is to turn out, and it won't mean change or threat, so the £ has bounced back. The second is that the EU (no doubt with the ERT members' hands up their arses) have decided that the UK cannot escape the Customs Union (£), and must remain subservient to the Brussels empire for ever more. 

The threat to Brexit isn't from weak lunatics and purblind fools in the Lords, or the little pungent dags swinging with the stride of George Soros and his chums. If push comes to shove we can always resurrect the scaffold and lop-off their noggins. The real threat is from these big corporates - and I really don't know what we can do about them. 

These rule us now. Democracy has surely died. 

Some ERT members - full list at https://www.ert.eu/members

    * For our many North American and (astonishingly) Norwegian readers, 'd' is the old abbreviation of penny; a quarter of a penny is a farthing, whilst one pronounces one and a half pennies as 'a penny ha'penny'

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Roads and parks also the victims of child abuse

Over Christmas I supplemented the log fire, case of port and pile of new books with a few old Rumpole DVDs of programmes originally transmitted in the 1980s. Amongst them was an episode that was a savage critique of naive and credulous social workers, who had convinced themselves that some stolen carnival masks were indicative of child satanic abuse. Mortimer clearly based this on the nonsense of a contemporary Salem-type witch hunt in Scotland in which health professionals were trained to inspect school children's anuses for signs of Satanic interference. Thirty years later little has changed.

Social workers may be utterly crap at noticing real threats to children as they are happening - baby P's fractured limbs and bruises, a thousand pubescent girls sexually abused by Pakistani grooming gangs - but they're superbly skilled post-hoc in using those failures to lever-in more money, more staff, greater bureaucracy, new tax funded scrutiny and NGO bodies and so on. It's a pretty good model; every time they screw up and the public gets angry, they commandeer more tax money, all existing staff get a promotion and the pyramid grows another layer. 

Boundaries have been blurred by the merging of health, education and social work functions in local government and it's become increasingly hard to tell the cost of one part of the service from another. And of course it's not just children; council responsibility for elderly care budgets is also straining budgets to crisis point. 

As local elections are a bit more than a fortnight away, many electors are looking at the poor states of their post-winter roads. Roads and parks are the first recourse for councils making cuts; both can be trimmed attritionally year after year and nothing will collapse for a long time. Parks other than London's Royal parks have become sterile biological deserts of turf and trees, the only maintenance being a fortnightly shave with a gang mower in the growing months. Fences, gates, lighting, paths, ornamental planting are allowed to gently degenerate, the councils only intervening when a H&S risk arises. Roads are the same - I can't remember the last time I saw a B road regularly resurfaced. Roads and parks can be cut year after year and the effects will be far less noticeable than closing a library, for example, or shutting a day centre. All the money that used to pay for parks and roads is almost certainly sitting in the council's extensive meeting suites having case conferences. 

It can only go on for so long, of course. Eventually local tax payers, faced with ever-increasing bills and ever-poorer refuse collection, street lighting and sweeping, road maintenance, parks, libraries and leisure facilities, stuff people actually don't mind paying a reasonable wedge for, will demand change. 

But not this year. Yet. 

(London is insulated from much of this by the massive TfL budget being largely ringfenced to, erm, transport and very hard to transfer to social workers, and the high standards of the Royal parks disguise the poor condition of other council parks)  

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Reprieve for Fisheries Protection Vessels - but no crews

The story so far ...

The UK had four lightly armed and armoured Offshore Patrol Vessels highly suitable for Norway to Gibraltar service on Fisheries Protection, Maritime patrol and SAR operations. These are known as Batch Ones. These are due to be 'replaced' by Batch Twos - battle-hardened and with enhanced combat versatility. The MoD were pretending that these were a replacement for the Batch ones but in fact they're destined for Gibraltar, Bahrain, the Falklands and the Caribbean to plug a Frigate-hole in the Fleet. The four Batch Ones were due to be scrapped or sold out of the Service, and indeed one of them, HMS Severn, has already gone. 

However, our esteemed and respected Sea Lords hadn't expected Brexit, and the need for enhanced patrol and protection of the UK's new 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone from 2020.

HMS Tyne



Well, good news - the three remaining Batch Ones, HMS Tyne, HMS Clyde and HMS Mersey are to be retained and 'kept in a state of operational readiness' - i.e. not crewed or stored, but not abandoned and cannibalised. Their Lordships will need a little extra budget to actually crew them.  

It's not just protecting our waters against Dutch and Spanish pirate trawlers stealing our fish. Since the dear old Nimrod ("Ten thousand rivets flying in close formation"*) went our near-coastal ASW capability has been compromised - and with the integrity of our underwater comms cables ever more essential to national security, we need to be extra vigilant. A combination of long-endurance drones and response vessels with RM boarding parties and RIB fast launch and recovery kit for both constabulary duties and escorting foreign warships making passage in and over our waters mean the Batch Ones will have a use for many years yet. 

*Oops - as SW points out, this refers to the Shackleton. Here's a pic of one. 

Saturday, 14 April 2018

How endemic is German corruption? - Europe's crooks trample on legality

The rise of German economic corruption appears to have two phases. From the turn of the new century to 2012 / 2015 low level economic corruption became endemic throughout Germany as German manufacturing and industry expanded output and sales. A change in German law in 1997 had allowed prosecutors to investigate corruption proactively - previously firms had to report themselves. However, authorities were also then starved of resources to investigate and bring corruption actions - in effect giving official German government approval to allow corruption to flourish. As a consequence of this official 'fair wind', industrial giant Siemens distributed over €400,000,000 of bribe money to secure bent deals around the world.

As the New York Times reported in 2007:
Wolfgang Schaupensteiner has never been so busy. From an office in central Frankfurt that is decorated with cartoons about corruption, Schaupensteiner has headed the tiny financial crime unit for this city, Germany's financial capital, since 1993. These days, his backlog of bribery, fraud and other white-collar crime cases runs into the hundreds, and he says he has a simple explanation for it.

Corporate profits have surged across sectors ranging from finance to autos to energy, as German executives have turned the country into one of the world's largest exporters over the last five years. Illicit dealings helped create their success, he asserts, and that in turn has encouraged many executives to believe that crime does pay.

On Wednesday, prosecutors in the southern city of Nuremburg raided multiple locations of the offices of Siemens, one of the country's most prominent companies, on suspicion that certain bribes may have been concealed as payments for services that were never provided. In recent months, DaimlerChrysler, BMW and Volkswagen have also been raided, put under investigation or even had employees taken into custody. "Globalization has become a motor for corruption in Germany," asserted Schaupensteiner, 58. "It creates dangerous potential if you do not control it."
More recently, in 2017 Ernst & Young investigated the extent to which corruption has become embedded and institutionalised within the German economy. This second phase roll out of German corruption proved as insidious as an invasion of Japanese knotweed, with crooked tentacles reaching into every crevice of German economic life. The rapid growth of online trading in Germany in the last five years has exacerbated the criminality - German firms trade corruptly and criminally with impunity on the internet as the German legal system provides few affordable remedies for their victims. And all this is done with the complicity and support of the German government.
A staggering 43 percent of German business executives polled by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) think bribery and corruption are fairly commonplace in Europe's economic powerhouse. That's a big jump from just 26 percent in 2015.
In Germany, 23 percent of the managers polled admit they would act in an "unethical manner" to move up the career ladder or secure higher salaries. Roughly 10 percent of German executives polled wouldn't rule out deliberately providing false information to others to help their own careers and fill their pockets.

"VW's emissions-cheating scam, the Libor rate-rigging scandal, and [unlawful] collusion among companies as well as a raft of compliance violations have made the headlines quite frequently of late," says Stefan Heissner, who heads EY's Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services division.

He adds that stricter compliance rules that have appeared in the wake of major corporate scandals have not really changed the perception of widespread corruption in Germany.
Whilst Germany is not alone in seeing a rise in economic corruption, the country is unique in being able to roll it out on an pan European industrial scale, leading an entire continent in implementing then covering up emissions testing, and now corrupting the trade in two-thirds of the continent's gas imports. The corrupt appointment of the German zealot Martin Selmayr to the heart of the EU raises suspicion that the repression of the truth and blocking of all measures to tackle corruption has begun with a German takeover of key appointments. Germany's scoring on independent international indices was summarised by a correspondent in response to the post below; 
Unlike the EU the UK does not attack commercial competitors using the legal system: the EU attacks companies like Intel, Google/Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Chrysler, Fox, Facebook, Starbucks, Apple, Sony et al by using antitrust charges to further the interests of Eurozone technology companies.

Circa 2016 - in terms of shareholder protection the UK is 4th in the world behind Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore: France is 29th: Germany is 49th.

In terms of creditor protection: Germany is 28th: France is 79th.

No other EU country can match the UK on Rule of Law: the UK is 3rd in the world for property rights protection: 2nd in the world for Investment Freedom: 3rd in the world for Financial Freedom. As The Wall Street Journal’s Jon Sindreu has noted: “most international financial contracts are written in English law.”

The World Ranking of Judicial Independence cites: UK 6th - Rwanda is 23rd, Germany 24th, France 28th, Saudi Arabia 30th, India 53rd, Spain 58th and Italy 65th.

The EU is like Volkswagen writ large: when they can’t hack it – they crook.
This deep and endogenous German economic corruption will not play well in the rest of Europe. The UK, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian nations, with low levels of corruption and high scoring of commercial rectitude and probity, will be feeling fouled by contact with German corruption - and will now be adding up the commercial losses that German crookedness has cost them. The southern nations will be aggrieved that they have been bullied, coerced and hectored by a deeply crooked nation wearing a false disguise of moral superiority. And eastern nations such as Poland and Bulgaria, countries Germany has robbed of billions of Euros in corrupt complicity with Gazprom, will be looking at concrete measures to get their money back.

Frankfurt may attract a few McMafia Russian banks, a BCCI or a handful of Ponzi scammers, but chances now that any reputable international financial institution would want to be mired in the filth of institutional German economic corruption are slimmer than ever.

Friday, 13 April 2018

German corruption will rot the whole EU fish

Fish they say rots from the head. The Telegraph details an explosive leak of documents (£) from the EU itself detailing EU collusion in illegal Gazprom trade terms - the analysis of which I'll leave to our valued and wise colleagues over at Capitalists at Work - it emerges that Germany enjoyed Russian gas at up to half the cost of her poorer neighbours, and it's suggested that this sweetheart deal kept a lid on the whole corrupt and secretive arrangements for so long, arrangements that beggared Germany's neighbours. It also helps explain Germany absenting herself from both European and international sanctions and other measures against Russia.

Institutionalised German corruption is a new idea. Those of us who've always thought of Germans as upright rule-followers obsessed with their stools may have to revise our opinion of them to Italians with a savings habit. The Volkswagen emissions scandal - again, a German leading role given the scale and value of German car production - was also known about throughout Brussels. But we've always known that the EU is irredeemably corrupt. And Martin Selmayr, the Federast High Priest, most recently appointed corruptly as head of the EU's civil service giving the corrupt Germans one of their own at the heart of the EU. 

Germany scores low on international indices of commercial rectitude. Her courts are corrupted and she scores lower than many second-world nations on WEF indices. But the main problem with German corruption is that they're so damn efficient at it on such a large scale - they've industrialised it. An entire continent's car production, an entire continent's gas consumption, both fouled by deep rooted and well-organised national corruption. And no, the French or the Spanish or the Italians would not have done it if Germany hadn't cheated and manufactured a cover up. 

That Germany's corruption is known and supported not only by the German government but by the whole EU is evidenced by the utter absence of criminal actions flowing from the diesel scam. This was not a victimless crime. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the emission standards, the facts are that car makers lied and cheated and as a consequence millions of diesel owners have effectively lost money - in some cases many thousands. So far the only car executive to face jail time is a German Volkswagen VP who failed to escape from the US in time. 

The EU has only one member that comes close to the UK in terms of low corruption, business rectitude, judicial independence and other Transparency and WEF criteria and that's the Netherlands; in many cases they score better than the UK. No surprise. The Dutch have long been both valued and admired as allies and rivals. Fish rots from the head, and the EU's uncontested head right now is Germany. If German corruption and hegemony is unchallenged, the EU will putresce. However, if a combination of the Netherlands and the Visegrad group move to wrest power from a sclerotic and corrupt Franco-German grasp, the UK may enjoy the benefits post-Brexit of a reformed Europe.  

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Are the bastards lying to us again?

The British public is getting used to being lied to. Blair destroyed the credibility of the intelligence services, the BBC destroyed the credibility of national broadcasters and MPs by their venality and crookedness have virtually destroyed popular trust in Parliament. A whole host of national and international trusted figures have been caught telling lies in an effort to persuade the people not to vote for Brexit. So now many people - possibly even most people - treat whatever they're 'officially' told as suspect, with caution, and always subject to being proved. And increasingly that proof is sought through social media. 

What social media is saying about the latest Syrian 'atrocity' is that it's bollocks. They're saying there's no independent verification that a chemical incident took place, no UN observers, no news crews. People ask 'why would he?' when he's pretty well won and the US has announced it's giving up. And oh yes, they're asking, why do these alleged incidents happen just when the US is ready to withdraw?  They're laughing at pictures of a staged 'bomb' placed gently on a chipboard bed, at video showing rescuers with no masks and no protective gear entering a CW contaminated area, and they're asking why these alleged CW incidents only happen in places where the White Helmets are active. In other words, ordinary people on social media are asking all the questions that the MSM, parliament, analysts and observers should be asking. 

To we folk outside the establishment circle, it seems we're being asked to use massive military force against a sovereign nation on the basis of some short indistinct video clips showing a number of anonymous dead children who could be rebels, or their hostages, and who could have died from anything from Carbon Monoxide poisoning to EColi. No identification of the dead. No independent post-mortems, no chemical swabs, no testing of clothing. And yet within minutes of this footage and the allegations (Who made the allegations? The Al Qaeda rebels? Their white helmeted chums? ) it seemed the great and the good of the UK War faction were calling for Assad's blood, cruise missiles, reasons to keep the US in theatre.

And I could be wrong, but to my ear what most people are asking most of all is "Are the bastards lying to us again?"

Monday, 9 April 2018

Sorry Herr Juncker your woes are just starting

Later today or tomorrow senior EU official Herr Juncker will publish his official letter to the elected Prime Minister of Hungary, Victor Orban, congratulating him on his victory like an MD sending a memo congratulating his sales manager on winning the shiny shoes competition. Juncker will write of his hope for Hungary's participation in ever closer union, oblivious to the reality of democratic choice. 

The EU is quite clear however that it stands as the champion of democracy, just not the kind of democracy that involves people voting. No, for the EU democracy means compliance with the EU's standards and rules - any departure indicates a drift towards un-democracy that must be checked by sanctions and punishments, even if people voted for it. The EU's democratic principles, you understand, trump stuff like elections and voting; they are a purer form of democracy, crafted by unelected officials and demagogues free from popular approval. And yes, there are many in Brussels who actually believe all that. 

Meanwhile the Eurozone economy is stalling just as QE has reached its limit and its just one set of figures away from slipping into the first stage of recession. With the global economic cycle due to downturn next year anyway this could be a biggie. Deutschebank is slipping under the waves like some great ocean liner, each week bringing the share price closer to zero. Italy is working on a parallel currency. And now the Visegrad Four are confirmed and strengthened. Let alone Brexit. 

At home PTSD Andrew Adonis and ACGrayling are ever closer to complete meltdown, Adonis throwing petulant tantrums at the BBC for no longer being 'binary' in its output; i.e. for no longer reporting that 'Remain' has an equal chance of winning. With this degree of self-delusion, he's a natural for a cushy job in Brussels. Or rather he would be if we weren't leaving. Which raises the question; what on Earth will all the PTSD Adonises do after next year?

Friday, 6 April 2018

Sadiq Khan on the back foot, Tower Hamlets on Lockdown

London mayor Sadiq Khan was completely absent from the TV and radio studios yesterday, and it wasn't because he was visiting crime scenes or consoling bereaved relatives. It emerged he was hiding in his City Hall office. At the moment when London needed resolute leadership, the little man had locked himself away from view.

It would be foolish to suggest the Mayor is responsible for a dramatic spike in violent crime that has seen London's murder rate exceed that of New York for the first time. But for a mayor who spends the bulk of his time and effort self-publicising, with a thumb in every issue from global warming to meetings with the EU's Brexit team, his lack of engagement with the death and bloodshed on his own streets makes him look silly and trivial.

Back in November he made what looked like a state visit to India and Pakistan, a tour that involved several changes of local native costume each day, with internet bandwidth straining to convey the tsunami of publicity pictures sent back to London. It was all intended to sell Khan to every south asian community in London, and all at the taxpayer's expense. However, Khan's vanity, his overweening narcissism, his ambition and his high opinion of himself aren't helping him; though his ratings in London appear high, I suspect this is artificial, and that his true support is a thin shell. People expect officer-like responsible behaviour from their leaders, not craven excuses and hiding from view.

It is encouraging that despite the mayor, rather than because of him, the London Assembly has taken full charge of arrangements for the May 3rd elections in Tower Hamlets. Following the crook Lutfer Rahman's defenestration as London's most corrupt mayor and the borough being run from Whitehall under emergency measures, the GLA is determined not to allow any repeat. The transcript of the March meeting of the Police and Crime committee is here - detailing measures that include
  •  A ban on the use of any language other than English in polling stations
  •  Police guarding every single polling station
  •  Staff & Police with body-worn cameras to record breaches of the RPA
  •  Taped 'no go' areas marked outside stations to exclude Muslim intimidators from getting too close to voters
  • Training in election law / RPA for all 620 Tower Hamlets officers
  • A specialist election law squad to tackle VIP and high profile Muslim intimidators (imams etc)
  • All police leave cancelled for May 3rd
  • Electoral Commission have carried out special checks on the Electoral Register
  • IVR making good progress, all HMOs scrutinised
It's all generally good stuff - they're clearly determined to run a British rather than a third-world election this year in Tower Hamlets, even if they don't hit the right note all the time:
Chief Superintendent Sue Williams QPM I have also invested in my Faith Officer, who in the last election, the general election, went around to all the different faith establishments and talked about spiritual influencing, talked about electoral fraud, and was able to give people a little bit more information about what is right and what is wrong, because a lot of the general public do not understand. What we have said is we would be happy to repeat that process with the Faith Officer leading up to the mayoral election as well.
So, a useless mayor on the back foot and being exposed for what he is, and Tower Hamlets being recovered for democracy with a strong pushback against Bangladeshi electoral fraud and intimidation. Reasons to be cheerful.

Praying for a second term? Khan affected a variety of native costumes on his tour

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Alison Saunders - a vile monster who should never have been appointed DPP

There was a degree of celebration yesterday at the defenestration of Alison Saunders, the most vile, unsuitable and disastrous DPP in living memory. The woman is a monster, driven by a bigoted ideology that has led to gross injustice and a neglect of police time spent on rapidly increasing crimes in categories other than the targets of Saunder's twisted zealotry.

As Allison Pearson writes in the Telegraph (£)
What the CPS statistics did not reveal was the embarrassing number of men brought to trial for rape on wholly inadequate evidence, and swiftly acquitted. Saunders wasted huge resources on her hobbyhorse, particularly high-profile campaigns relating to often imaginary historic sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, the crimes most people care about – burglaries, stabbings, shoplifting, public disorder - were booming. Home owners were told that they should not expect to have break-ins investigated, as the police were too busy (quizzing schoolboys who had shared photos of their genitals on Snapchat, no doubt.) At the weekend, it was confirmed that the unthinkable had come to pass: London now has a higher murder rate than New York.
and
The worst DPP in living memory, a person who politicised and poisoned the criminal justice system, seemed to regard trials as an annoying impediment to locking up the accused, causing untold misery to innocent men and their loved ones.
Good riddance to utter rubbish - but she should never have been appointed in the first place.

And not for the first time the probity of the members of the Electoral Commission has been called into doubt after four of them were caught making public anti-Brexit statements. The role of a Commissioner requires absolute public political neutrality. 

Again, perhaps not a surprise - these key quangos are still packed with Neolib ideologues spreading their poison long after their political and professional death. 

There needs to be a mass cull of all vile monsters, the placeholders, the has-beens, reptiles, dinosaurs and saboteurs still crowding our national institutions. They will hold this nation back, stuck in a state of monstrous injustice, bias, vile prejudice, establishment self interest and corruption. More than ever we need fair, balanced, open, equitable, democratic and representative appointments to these posts and these bodies. This old dross must be culled. 

Friday, 30 March 2018

Rules only apply to little people - part 43

News that former French President Sarkozy is being indicted on criminal charges brought few comments and little reaction either in the UK or in France. No one actually expects him to serve jail time, no matter how large the fraud or serious the criminality. Short of murder, and perhaps not even then, Europe's elite never, ever go to jail. Christine Lagarde was found guilty of a criminally fraudulent payments of £355 million - but not enough for jail time. Juncker has been criminally convicted of fraud in Luxembourg, when a bent politician there, and of course Berlusconi has spent his political career being convicted of the most serious offences and yet avoiding jail. 

A few days ago I emailed the EU's HR department, EPSO;
Hi - I'm a highly qualified individual now living in Austria and available for consultant and ad-hoc placement. I have over 30 years experience at senior level. I am seeking a highly paid position for a term of about 5 years - with expenses, grade A2 car, personal staff. Colleagues have advised me I need to use the 'Selmayr Process' for appointment but I cannot find it on your website. I'm afraid I've been working in England for many years where corruption is almost non-existent, so I have no idea if I should bribe an official or officials or even how to do so, but I presume (from what I have been told) that some sort of arrangement would be required for a fast-track 'Selmayr Process' appointment. I have always thought such things both illegal and immoral, but perhaps the rules do not apply to the EU? Perhaps you would be good enough to let me know exactly how to find my way around this fast track process. Mit freundlichen Grüße
They responded
The European Personnel Selection Office is not in charge of the selection of high level management officials at the European Commission.
For further information we suggest that you contact the relevant services via the Europe Direct Contact Centre: https://europa.eu/european-union/contact_en 
Best regards
OK, I was just having a dig - but it raises an important point that applies just as much to the public sector in the UK as to the deeply corrupt EU; the rules only apply to little people. All that stuff about equal opportunities, a fair go, openness, transparency and probity is just so much noise once you reach senior appointments. A job costing the taxpayer £250k a year is £1.25m over five years - where else could you spend this much public money with no competition, based on taste rather than merit, with the route closed to many best qualified? 

Perhaps we should expect no better of our cousins in Europe, where standards are low and levels of judicial and public corruption high, but surely we should aim to tackle these abuses head-on in a newly independent Britain?

Thursday, 29 March 2018

God, I love the British people!

First, I implore you to listen to a few minutes of R4's 'Today' from this morning, talking to a group of leavers and remainers from the factory floor of a car components plant - Podcast, starts at 1:20 in to 1:26. God bless you, Sonia, Malcolm, Frankie, Peter and Tina - I'm so damn proud of you! 

This is the voice of Britain. 

To hear the whiny, sneering, elitist metropolitan continuity-remoaners who loathe both their nation and their fellow citizens, read the Twitter feed #r4today from 7.20 onwards; a litany of vile, pompous, superior and spiteful personal abuse which I hope those who gave us such a fantastic Vox Pop never read. "You daft arses!" I shouted at the screen "You're exactly the reason why 17.4m people voted as they did!".   

That's not the only reason I love the British people this morning. The day before yesterday, to counter the CA cheating allegations, I posted a quick Twitter meme - five minutes on photoshop using a partisan-selection from Wikipedia's pages. The figures at the top are accurate and from the Electoral Commission site. I do it once or twice a day. But this one grabbed attention and so far has had nearly 60,000 views - and some inspiring comments;

"Little old Brexit so proud we won against all that!"
"It's a tribute to the innate intelligence of the... brilliant British people that Vote Leave won"
"Makes you proud to be British don't it?"
"No wonder the press and academia hate the working mans voice they use our taxes against us."

And so on.

And ample evidence that the elitists, the metropolitan socialists, the Guardian-fodder both hate and fear the working class and ordinary Brits who have proved themselves so, so much more intelligent, more resilient, and more ready to make sacrifices for their children's good that the elitist sneerers would ever credit. 

Thank you readers - leavers and remainer both. Thank you British people. I go into Easter now inspired and filled with hope. 

Yes, it's biased and selective - it's a piece of counter-propaganda.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

The monstering of Corbyn

If it had been choreographed it could not have played better - the sequenced monstering of Corbyn over the past week or so has proven a delight, the gift that just kept giving. Firstly we had the 'Agent COB' revelations from Czech intelligence - a log showing a handful of meetings with the jejune beardy, before Soviet agents dismissed him as an espionage prospect as being too stupid. Then, almost as if Mr Putin (or unknown perp ...) was taking cues from CCHQ, came the Salisbury poisoning and Corbyn's predictable equivocal response; Newsnight was accused of photoshopping his hat to make him look more Soviet. Show Jeremy an enemy of Britain, and Agent COB will give them the benefit of the doubt and invite them for tea on the Commons terrace. Finally, Corbyn's support of a rancid anti-semitic piece of street art set off a monstering that provoked a mass Jewish protest outside Parliament yesterday, faced by a Momentum counter-demonstration presumably in favour of anti-semitism. 

However, we must all now take breath. The aim is not to nudge Corbyn from office, merely to knock his poll ratings down. We need to keep him as Labour leader, but weakened and emasculated, a figure of general ridicule leading the Parliamentary party in support of Brexit but not popular enough to win an election and unseat Mrs May. We must also keep Mrs May in office until it's too late to undo Brexit; as I've written before, getting out is the main thing. 

So as his poor sulky little narcissistic face decorates the front pages and perhaps the fact that his brand of puerile and naive student politics is dross actually sinks in, we can go into Easter not out of the mire but perhaps breathing just a little more easily.  

 

Friday, 23 March 2018

Buzz Lightyear confused about Fisheries Protection

Presumably there are defence stories so soiled in mendacity that even Con Coughlin won't touch them. Such is the piece in this morning's Telegraph (open) on the new Batch 2 OPVs, and their launch by Defence Secretary Buzz Lightyear Gavin Williamson as Fisheries Protection vessels - even though HMS Forth, the ostensible cause of Williamson's self-publicity event, is shortly leaving for the Falklands. 

Whoever wrote the Telegraph piece knows even less than do I and readers of this blog about changes to the fisheries protection squadron. In fact, it's unlikely that any of the five batch 2s coming into commission between now and 2020 will undertake FP duties, at least until new frigates come into commission that can cover the Falklands, Gibraltar, Bahrain and the Caribbean.

That didn't stop the intern journo who probably penned the piece repeating Williamson's porkies;
"The Royal Navy has a proud tradition of protecting the UK’s coastline and keeping a close eye on our fishing waters. With these state-of-the-art, vastly capable ships we stand ready to protect our fisheries once Britain leaves the EU."
What's needed is a commitment to maintain the Batch 1s as the heart of the FP squadron - those in the know advise that these vessels have at least another 15 years of sea life, and are only destined for the scrapyard because the Navy can't afford to crew them. 

We only flagged on Saturday that this was likely to happen - force multiplication doesn't mean that HMS Forth can be both berthed in Port Stanley and on patrol in the North Sea at the same time, whatever they've told Buzz.

HMS Tyne - a batch 1 OPV good for another 15 years

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Tees for the 'Patriotic nativist Identitarian movement'

Not my style, but readers may be interested in a line of clothing and accessories from Phalanx Europa aimed at the 'patriotic nativist Identitarian movement' which the uninformed and unhip incorrectly still call the Euro right wing. 

It looks quite cool and well designed, if not my own old-fashioned style (I wear nothing bearing writing or other people's names) and not at all skinhead nazi - more, erm, cappuccino Identitarian. And that's the problem with niche fashion stuff; I predict that before the Summer is out, cheap Chinese knock-offs of some of these lines will appear on market stalls across Europe, neither the makers nor the vendors having a clue as to the meaning or symbolism or the words. 

And on the streets of Southall or Spitalfields the local yoof, never bright at the best of times, might think the Lambda symbol quite a cool thing to have on a tee ... 

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Pressure building on EU27 fault lines

At a time when the perception in the UK is of unity amongst the EU27, Mark Rutte, the Netherlands PM, gives a useful interview to Der Spiegel. On the surface it's the usual 'we all stand together' PR piece, but increasingly with the EU27 these days the more they protest their unity, the deeper the fissures are breaking. 

Firstly, there is the split between Jean-Claude Juncker's Commission and the member nations of the EU27. Juncker wants far greater powers for the EU, an army, a finance ministry, EU embassies replacing national embassies, a political Commission with a permanent appointed President and so on. The nations of the EU27, including France and Germany, do not. The fissure has come to a head most recently over two matters too late for the Spiegel interview - the corrupt appointment of Martin Selmayr, Juncker's former gofer, as head of the EU bureaucracy, and Juncker's fawning anilingual congratulations to Putin. Guy Verhofstadt and the EP are genuinely furious about the first, and yesterday Verhofstadt upbraided Juncker for his message to Putin being at odds with the response of individual EU27 leaders. Rutte makes clear he stands with national, and not EU, sovereignty - "Europe must be built upon the foundation of its nation-states, and not imposed upon us by Brussels" he said, and "The Commission should serve the EU members, not the other way around". He is also unhappy that Juncker thinks he has power to break the EU's rules for 'political' reasons - i.e. the solidarity of the EU.
"Juncker is an outstanding Commission president, but when he repeatedly insists that the Commission is political, I have to object. The moment the Commission gives the impression that it strictly ensures that small countries respect the stability pact but does not apply the same oversight to Italy and France, it undermines the rules that we have agreed upon together."
Again, one can only speculate that the commonly heard mantra  "Juncker is an outstanding Commission president but ..." actually means "Juncker is a blundering drunken old fool who's fucked up again". 

Rutte is equally scornful of Franco-German stitchups;
SPIEGEL "..it was primarily Germany and France that were the driving forces: Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac agreed to suspend the stability pact for their two countries ..."
RUTTE: " ... and then came the sequel a few years later when Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy took their famous beach stroll in Deauville during the euro crisis. Both events sparked a great deal of suspicion and mistrust. When not only Germany and France are in agreement, but also the Commission, then the other EU countries have to be extremely careful."
 Again, events have over-run the print scale; Sarkozy was arrested yesterday for fraud, joining Christine Lagarde and Juncker himself as leading EU figures who have to answer charges of fraud, corruption and criminality. 

One point on which Rutte will find universal agreement with the UK is over the EU's protectionist labour laws. Just as protectionist trade tariffs make EU manufacturing sclerotic and glacial in responding to modernisation - they're years behind in AI, for example - so protectionist EU trade qualification laws prevent Europe's service sector responding to market needs. No English ski instructor can get a job in France, no English hairdresser can style hair in Austria and no English car mechanic change a wheel in Italy. 

Rather than the EU's net contributors paying even more post-Brexit, Rutte wants to see more market deregulation;
"What Europe is missing is not billions more in funding, but rather overdue structural reforms -- including in the service industry. There are currently nearly 5,000 protected professions in the EU and in Germany. This hinders growth, as any economist will tell you."
It also hinders innovation. Hairdressers here must serve a three-year apprenticeship and the result is standardised women's hairstyles that would not be out of place in Soviet east Germany. Girls in their twenties wear the hair of women in their fifties. In the UK any girl of sixteen can pick up a comb and scissors and the result - the disasters aside - is a fashion, music and culture industry of a strength and vibrancy that poor protected EU27ers can only dream about. We really are better off out. 

Monday, 19 March 2018

Tommy Robinson

Regular readers will know that I've long been at odds with campaigners whose targets are Muslims in general rather than Islamists, or whose targets are Muslims rather than the absurdity of the Islamic faith. All British citizens conforming to law, who can pass Cameron's test, are entitled to peaceful enjoyment of their lives, homes and streets without threat, harassment or violence, irrespective of their faith. 


Robinson now has an extensive entry on Wikipedia that details his past extreme right wing activities, and his damascene moment with Quilliam that apparently changed him from bigoted street thug to campaigner for democracy. I'm not questioning or belittling this - just stating it as a fact. It's the reason that until now he's never been mentioned on this blog - he's been outside my interest.

However, I did watch the events yesterday at Speakers Corner with interest. It was rightly understood as a free speech event. It was very well attended, and tens of thousands more followed it on live feeds or on Twitter. It was peaceful. It was a protest against what seems to be a concerted silencing of right wing voices by both the State and social media - culminating in the refusal of entry to the UK by three European right-wingers. Robinson read a speech by Martin Sellner, one of the excluded activists. It was not a good speech, certainly not worth quoting. Brits are motivated more by 1688 and the Chartists than fantasies of being Aryan knights. It didn't matter; very few heard it, either live or on the feeds. The speech wasn't the point. 

I'm still not a fan of Mr Robinson. But free speech is under serious threat, and groups such as Martin Scriblerus are important because they offer individual bloggers who may be suddenly silenced a resilience. What has been happening with increasing frequency on You Tube and Twitter may soon come to Blogger, and even innocent and peace-affirming voices such as mine are under threat, perhaps just for mentioning Tommy Robinson's name. I'm still not a fan of Mr Robinson, but if yesterday was a case of a bad man doing a good thing, then so be it. In defence of free speech our enemy's enemy is our friend.  

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Fisheries protection

This is really a post that would be far better written by Richard North; I happily admit the complexities of defence procurement strategies are somewhat beyond me. But perhaps commentors with experience can add some light or correct any howlers. 

It seems we are to get our 200 mile economic waters back in a year's time, and with them the right to decide who fishes them and what and how much is caught there. It's also pretty obvious that the UK fishing fleet has been decimated, and it will take time to build new boats and above all to skill new crew in a highly hazardous industry, to upgrade shore facilities including freezing and processing and establish market and inland transport capacity. So it's pretty obvious that we're going to continue to licence, for a suitable fee I hope, at least for some time, both EU and and any other boats to take fish from our waters after 2019. 

The question arises as to how we are to patrol this - and to stop unlicenced boats from poaching our fish. This is traditionally the job of the Fisheries Protection Squadron; and here my first quote from the UK AF commentary blog:
The Fishery Protection Squadron is constantly out at sea around the UK, and has very little, if any time to wander far away from home. A 42 strong crew is embarked to work to a three watches mechanism. Each ship has an additional allocation of personnel used to rotate members of the crew to meet harmony rules. Personnel on the Rivers could be indicatively expected to spend four weeks at sea and two weeks on land, pretty much all year long. The River batch 1 ships each spend a minimum of 275 days out at sea, with maintenance to the vessels intended to ensure the capability of spending up to 320 days at sea. Normally there is a 9 days maintenance period and a longer one of 16 days, each year. 
  Combined, the three ships have to deliver at least 700 days of activity at sea, and Hunt minesweepers are used to complement the Rivers in fishery protection patrol task, but with no fixed target. Back in 2004, some three Hunt vessels could be routinely expected to be involved in supporting Fishery Protection.
This is a good point to introduce the Rivers - River class offshore patrol vessels, built in two variants; the Batch 1, which cost about £60m each, and the Batch 2, at a cost of £120m each, which are currently coming off the slipway. The difference is down to the fact that Batch 2s are being built to warship standards - with systems, magazines etc that can sustain damage and punishment from other warships, whereas the Batch 1s are pure 'constabulary duties'  vessels. More on the Batch 2s from Think Defence HERE

Now this is where the lying, double dealing and manipulation come in. These new Batch 2 vessels are also just about suitable as substitutes for the frigates and corvettes that we don't have, to maintain a global presence. But because of their reduced at-sea capacity, they would need to be forward-based - permanently stationed - in the Caribbean, Gibraltar, Falklands or Bahrain - meaning they would not be available for UK fisheries protection. Yet the MoD seems to be pretending that they could do both tasks at the same time. It's pretty obvious they can't. 

In summary, from next year we'll need a far greater fisheries protection capacity but are building vessels grossly overspecified for FPVs because we need to send them out of the UK. We will not have enough vessels even to maintain our existing FP capacity next year, never mind enhance it. To my simple mind we need more £60m Batch 1s, with a build time of less than a year, that can fly-off UAVs and watch large areas of sea. But we need to place orders now.

Batch 2 River class OPV HMS Forth - just launched and soon to leave for the Falklands ...

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

It's time to update the Birkenhead Drill

I can still recall the pages of the Annual from which, as a child, I lay on my stomach on the living room floor reading and re-reading 'The Birkenhead Drill'.  This was the story of the formalisation of 'women and children first' back in the 1850s. A troop transport going aground on a dangerous coast, not enough lifeboats, so the regiment drew up on the sinking deck in parade order and watched as their wives and children abandoned ship, facing death and sharks with courage and fortitude. It was one of those youthful lifelong lessons, like never pointing a shotgun at anyone unless you intended to kill them, or saying farewell to a dying pet. I mentally filed this one away; here was my role and duty when I became a man, an English man - to die selflessly with dignity and honour, if required. And certainly not to behave like some cowardly dago or frog. Oh yes I'm serious - this is how we absorbed enduring moral values back then.  

Of course it's now completely out of date. Our priorities today are very different. Today's Birkenhead drill would be something like:-
ORDER OF EVACUATION

1. Persons with protected characteristics in the following order

- LBGT BAME female
- LBGT BAME male
- BAME children
- LBGT differently abled
- BAME females
- BAME males
- Other LBGT
- Other female
- Other differently abled
- Other persons who identify as females or gender fluid, multi genders

2. Non-BAME males in the following order

- Graduates, those that work in the media, academia, public sector workers except Armed Forces
- Cyclists
- Those under 25 and the children of the above
- Remainder of white males, inc. armed forces

3. Non BAME children

-  Children of unprotected-characteristic non-BAME or non-LBGT parents enjoy no protection and the lowest possible priority in evacuation.  

We'll have to change the name of course; how about the Rotherham Drill, or perhaps the Telford Drill?

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Russia must be taught its limits

At the risk of sounding like a weary headmaster whose rogue prodigy has yet again let him down, I'm very disappointed with Russia. I've defended Russia (whilst happily admitting that Putin really is just a ruthless thug) and still believe that Russia is Europe's natural ally in a global alignment  of Enlightened North against primitive barbarous South. Personally, I was even prepared to forgive Litvenenko's murder. But this latest affront is an outrage too far.

It's easy to understand why we are the target. The UK is an attractive destination for Russian defectors, ex-spies and refugees from Russomafia thuggery; we have one of the world's best intelligence capabilities, a capable anti-terrorist capacity, a legal system largely free from bribery and corruption and easy access to Europe's best shops. If Russia can make defectors feel insecure in Britain, Putin must think, they will not feel safe anywhere.  

Economic sanctions against Russia are merely cosmetic whilst Europe is dependent on Russian gas. Russia's breach is not so grave as to demand military retaliation. Something in between, I think, would suit; perhaps a cyber attack shutting down Russian transport, broadcasting or banking for 72 hours would make the message clear. Something of that sort. Without any direct link to the UK yet clear to Putin from whom the retaliation came.  

Let's wait and see. 

Update
=======
Wise comments and Tillerson's sacking have led me to believe I've made a right arse of this, and that Russia's guilt is very much more remote than I've assumed above.

Mea Culpa. 

Saturday, 10 March 2018

In the UK, hating Islam is quite legal. It's protected by law.

Brendan O'Neill in Spiked has quite properly analysed popular newspaper reports that Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding were imprisoned for 'hating Islam'. It's not true of course - but it's exactly what the police and the establishment want us to believe is true.  

As Brendan points out "The judge’s actual words were that Fransen and Golding had ‘demonstrated hostility’ to ‘people of the Muslim faith’ in their harassing, obsessive campaign around that Kent rape case. That is, to Muslims." And yes, intimidating, harassing, assaulting, abusing people of Islamic faith or people of no faith is a crime and yes they were rightly convicted. What they were explicitly NOT convicted of, because it is not a crime in Britain, was 'hating Islam'. 

In fact, 'hating Islam' is protected by law - specifically by Section 29J of the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act:-

29J    Protection of freedom of expression

Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.
However, in questioning whether crimes should be punished more harshly because they were religiously, or racially, or sexually motivated, Brendan O'Neill raises a cogent and compelling point - has the law got this wrong? If I get the shit kicked out of me because some thug thinks I'm an arse, should he be treated more leniently than if he was triggered because I was a white arse, or a Catholic arse? My injuries are no different, but the law says that if I have no protected characteristic, my body, my safety, my protection is less worthy than another citizen - how can this possibly be right?

What is of equal concern is that police, councils, schools, MPs and journalists are misrepresenting the law in order to convince the public that hating Islam is thoughtcrime. It really isn't. Personally, I regard the Muslim faith as an empty, primitive and worthless belief system, with no redeeming features, that hinders people from progress and from betterment. I think the world would be a better place without it. And I can say all that quite, quite legally. And since British law on these things had to be made in line with all relevant European rights legislation, I can say it quite legally anywhere in Europe. So there.  

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Election Fraud - Yes to ID

I freely admit that when national ID cards were mooted some years ago, I was at the forefront in opposing the idea. I still believe that freedom in the UK to walk about without carrying compulsory ID and to live where you wish without the requirement of registering your address with the police are fundamental British freedoms.

I have also long deprecated the degradation of the probity of our electoral system to a state that Michael Pinto-Duschinsky described to a select committee as 'third world'. Three million were on the roll who should not have been, and three million missing who should have been. Our Electoral Quotient - the number of voters per MP - was beyond all first world standards. We can't even achieve the second-rate standard of  + / - 5% let alone the + / - 3% achieved by advanced democracies such as New Zealand. Postal votes, Blair's corruption of democratic integrity, remain a joke mired in fraud and personation. The dilettante fool Cameron failed to correct the EQ issue when he had a chance - sold out no doubt to Clegg's self interest. Liberals will always put party before country. 

However, all credit to Theresa May in acting now, with a wafer thin margin in Parliament, to correct our constituency boundaries. And all credit for the electoral reform that has introduced IVR - individual voter registration. The hurdle that now remains is electoral fraud and personation. 

Electoral fraud is not confined to the Labour Party. Remember Bob Spink. But it is stories like that below that one meets most frequently; they are not myth, even though they may not be as widespread as supposed. 

It is also not confined to lowly fraud in the constituencies; The Telegraph reports how Corbyn's head of social media, Marsha-Jane Thompson, has been convicted of a mass voter registration fraud.  

So, albeit reluctantly, I now support the requirement for secure photo ID at our polling stations before voting papers are given. This system is already in place in Northern Ireland, where free photo ID cards are made available to those without other secure ID. It is an erosion of part of our national congruence, part of the trust that used to prevail when the vast majority in these isles gave great respect to the notion of 'fairness'. That has now passed. Fairness can only now be assured by ID.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Martin Selmayr: Corruption at the heart of Europe

That the EU is institutionally corrupt is not news. The organisation has been known for many years to be riddled with fraud, peculation, dishonesty, misuse of funds, nepotism and an utterly obscure, secret and bent system of chumocracy appointments. Auditors cannot close its accounts, financial records are so incriminating and so embarrassing that they are kept in locked rooms with no public access. Parliamentary expenses are no more than a thin cover for naked theft and fraud, and all this crooked, bent, corrupt filth is hidden from press and public by common consent between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission. The midden stench from the Berlaymont chokes honest breath, and each and every Eurocrat is mired in the putrescent feculence that flows from Brussels. 

So it is simply astonishing that even these slime-dwelling creatures of the eighth Malbolge should find an act so corrupt, so blatantly devoid of any shred of probity, that it evinces a protest. But such is the appointment of Martin Selmayr to the Secretary-General's job - running all 33,000 of the EU's officials. 

Politico.Eu carries the detailed story - the French are fuming because it is alleged the Germans have bribed widely to secure their man in post, a man without any senior Brussels civil service experience. It's as though Jeremy Corbyn appointed Owen Jones as Cabinet Secretary. It also appears that Selmayr was aware he'd got the job before the selection process even started. 
"(Liberation journalist) Quatremer led the charge on Monday as the midday briefing turned into a veritable uprising, with reporters demanding that Selmayr himself come to the podium to answer questions about how he got his new job, whether the vacant positions were properly advertised and if other procedures were followed according to EU regulations.

“These institutions don’t belong to you,” Quatremer snapped at (Margaritis) Schinas in response to his assertion that all questions on the matter had already been asked and answered. “They belong to the European citizens, and it is our perfect right to ask you questions, to repeat the questions as often as we want, without you giving us lessons in morality,” Quatremer said before asking yet more questions.

“You say it was legal; the rules were respected,” he told Schinas. “It doesn’t look legal to me, and as a representative of French public opinion, I tell you there’s a problem here."
Right now they're all flinging enough ordure to ensure widespread coating. Well done, chaps.   

Update 17.27
============
Details of the German bribes are now beginning to leak ...

 

Monday, 5 March 2018

US steel tariffs might mean UK CO2 emissions fall ...

One of the great construction cons, as I've posted previously, is the way in which we account for CO2. This isn't an argument about AGW or the effects of CO2, it's a matter of crooked accounting. Bloomberg's new 'eco' building in London actually cost something like 250,000 tonnes of CO2, but if the steel was made in China and the cement in Thailand (as is very common) only a fraction of that CO2 cost will appear on the UK's national CO2 total.  CO2 is accounted for at place of production rather than consumption.

The result of increased steel tariffs imposed by President Trump will doubtless be Chinese steel producers with a surplus of steel, which they'll seek to dump on world markets, including the EU. The more steel the Chinese dump on Europe, the lower Europe's CO2 emissions under the crooked accounting system.

Every cloud has a silver lining - that Mr Trump will allow us to claim a significant reduction in CO2 emissions will no doubt be of great pleasure to those who believe such measures have any worth at all.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Brexit: No deal, No money.

It was always going to come down to this - a trade deal in exchange for danegeld. Mrs May's speech has done all it could - in uniting public and political opinion at home, as far as is possible. The zealots and bigots of the EU will be stone deaf to suggestions of a pragmatic outcome; they would still rather destroy all Europe than concede favoured access for a single British wiper blade. It's easy for the Brussels bigots to have principles - they don't have national parliaments or voters to bother about, just denunciation for heresy by their fellow unelected officials. 

So to me Mrs May's speech was also what I term a 'Court speech'. In a construction dispute, once it's clear that you're headed to some sort of tribunal settlement, correspondence between the parties is always written for the benefit of the adjudicator / arbitrator  rather than the enlightenment of the other party. So this speech was eminently reasonable, offered real concessions, restated red lines and reminded the EU that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. One can imagine counsel for the United Kingdom quoting from it extensively before the judges at the International Court in the Hague.

The only thing of which we can be absolutely certain is that the EU bigots will spew May's offer out next week, with insults, sarcasm and barbed invective - all of which will sound nicely absurd, deeply unreasonable and plainly wrong when read-out in the calm of a Hague court in three years time. One of the purposes of Mrs May's speech was to invoke just this sort of idiotic reaction - and idiots such as Verhofstadt, a gobby man who simply can't keep his gob shut, have already started piling up the evidence. 

With the only uncontested payment being £10bn a year or so for the two year transition period (if it happens) everything else in the outline settlement - including the EU's insistence that we can't offset the UK's share of asset values in the EU - is noncontractual, an ex-gratia settlement. It's on the table to pay for a bespoke trade agreement. No deal, no pay. 

Sunday's election in Italy may offer the EU an additional headache, and now Mr Rutte from the Netherlands is also pushing back against the Federasts as the Visegrad group grow in confidence. Now where are the fools who used to lecture us all that 'the British simply aren't interested in the EU'?

Friday, 2 March 2018

Ice giants and snow trolls

Another intermission post whilst we wait for Mrs May, so those of you who want a choc ice or a smoke please slink away now. 

Ice giants
It's a short filler piece at the end of the news here - how Britain can't cope with 5cm of snow. Well, to a point, Lord Copper. Here we can expect snow up to 2m deep in winter, though it's not been over 60cm since I've lived here, and dawn temperatures of -20­­° are not unusual. We all cope and things carry on as normal; the postman ploughs his little van through snowbanks, the refuse vehicle wears snowchains and folk always wear hats and coats inside the car. Plus we have winter tyres and anyone owning a decent tractor or loading shovel can bid to be a snow clearance contractor. The trains don't miss a beat and most of the time the schools stay open. 

So wearily I have to explain for the fifth time that ice and snow events are rare enough in the UK not to maintain a standing provision for them - it's easier to take a minor economic hit from snow disruption every ten years than pay for kit and provision that will be redundant most winters. Austrians aren't ice giants - in fact they're less cold tolerant than most Brits, the houses and pubs here being without exception grossly overheated and actually uncomfortable for an Englishman used to Anglian country houses maintained at an equable 16° in winter except for the spaces immediately in front of the open fireplaces. 

Only the main road through the valley here is salted - all the rest of the steep little single lane ways up the sides are gritted. Salt only works to -15°, and the grit is surprisingly effective once cemented into the ice, a bit like driving on worn sandpaper. 


Snow trolls

In addition to the comments to previous posts I've now had two emails asking me to exclude a commentator whom many contributors find disruptive. I have to say he doesn't upset me and I'm sometimes quite grateful for a sharp puncturing of any hubristic posturing into which I stray. He was also quick to defend Mr Spalton's undoubted very high standards of expertise, erudition and wisdom when this was challenged. I'm also dyed to the core in my commitment to free speech and against censorship, and have warned previously against a real danger of social media becoming an echo chamber, so I embrace dissent as healthy.

On the other hand I am deeply conscious of the offence taken by several loyal and long standing readers, and aware that the person concerned quite naturally can't resist so easily provoking a reaction from many. 

So for now a plea, please, to not get either entrenched or go into full combat mode on this.