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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 " 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.