Cookie Notice

However, this blog is a US service and this site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services and analyze traffic. Your IP address and user-agent are shared with Google along with performance and security metrics to ensure quality of service, generate usage statistics, and to detect and address abuse.

Friday 13 December 2019


There were a tense few hours yesterday evening. The pound had fallen, things were looking shaky, the left were exultant on social media. It was a tense few hours until the exit poll came out; as soon as it did, I went to bed. Rising early it was like waking up to snowfall, and in the past hour and a half or so the live count cameras have been a delight -

Out go Soubry. Grieve. Swinson. Pidcock. Ummuna. Williamson. Wollaston. Lee. Gyimah. Dent Coad. They just keep coming. Corbyn petulant and whiny blaming everyone but himself; I think the comrades will defenestrate him by the end of next week. A couple of Labourites lost that I'd rather had stayed; Caroline Flint and Luciana Berger, whom I would dearly have loved to see as the next Labour leader.

Even better is watching the anger, shock and humiliation of the Remainers, who have now lost their last chance of blocking Brexit, all those prattish actors now feeling very sheepish, the Luvvie's Vote campaigners wondering who will feed them now, the has-beens. They're yet to show us the devastated faces of Blair, Major, Heseltine and the like but that's something to savour later over the smoked salmon and Cava. The TV faces look as shattered as they did in June 2016; Bercow a picture of slumped misery, Guardianistas numb with shock and grief. They believed their own propaganda.

What the fuck did they all think? That 17.4m of us would just say "Oh, OK, let's forget it then"?

The election is won. That hurdle is over. The future begins.

Oh yes. As a footnote, This. Thanks for nothing Nigel.

Referenced in the comments re the SNP seats

Thursday 12 December 2019

Well, this is it

Whatever the outcome of today's epochal election, it will stand as a high water mark of error, poor practice, confusion, division, uncertainty and sheer nastiness. The post-vote washup will go on for some few weeks I expect, but here's my take for starters

Electoral Commission
This election has shown up the failings and shortcomings of the EC like no other. The problem is not that they don't have copious guidance (see postal voting below) but that (a) they have no teeth with which to enforce the rules and (b) that's probably just as well because there are widespread suspicions of their partiality. They're an analogue bureaucracy operating in a digital age. Complete rethink needed.

Postal voting
Prior to the Blair corruption only a very small number voted by post - members of HM Armed Forces overseas, expats, the chronically sick and disabled. Now some 22% of all votes cast are postal. Typically votes are cast two to three weeks before the end of the campaign, which itself is legislated at 25 days and far too long. Previously I think it was 17 days. Yesterday there was a social media eruption over a BBC reporter commenting on postal vote outcomes. When only 3% of votes were postal, this mattered less - but now the secrecy of postal vote outcomes prior to the close of polling is critical. Seats are won or lost by one vote - so even if a handful of electors are swayed by a leak of postal vote information, it corrupts the system.

Social Media
I don't do Facebook so can only comment from the perspective of other platforms and message boards. In many cases it has become toxic. The left in particular use every method of bullying, intimidation, Twitter pile-ons, fake accounts and disruption. Yesterday there was a hack on ConservativeHome's message board. Social media activity is unregulated except for spend by registered parties and supporters - but this is as full of holes as a Swiss cheese

Street thuggery
Again from the Momentum left, the sheer level of street thuggery and intimidation during this election has been unprecedented. Guido identified one organised assault on a ministerial visit (yes, assault - read the legal definition of the offence. It doesn't mean punching the minister in the face). This behaviour has been widespread, and largely confined to the left.

Broadcast media bias
Again, the broadcast media have shown their bias like never before. It has been naked. Politicians are also wising up to the reality that the big broadcasters have passed their zenith, and their bluster, bullying and shoulder-shoving is to disguise the increasing role the internet and alternative media are playing.

Corruption amongst local electoral officials
This has never, to my knowledge, been an issue before. This time around, due I guess to a deeply Remainiac local government sector, we have seen a rise in fake and corrupt voter registration, and yesterday the exposure of fake and corrupt voting credentials. The leak of postal ballot information is a disgrace. It really saddens me to say we can no longer trust unquestionably the integrity of local electoral officials.

Well, we'll know tomorrow how well the polls have performed. Again, we must look at the role of pollsters, and whether we're happy with what they do and how they perform.

I'll be back on line here in the early hours - about 4am here, 3am there. Fingers crossed.   

Tuesday 10 December 2019

The fall of the BBC

The BBC's initial reaction to competition, when I was young, was to destroy it using the organisation's privileged broadcasting power. Thus was the entire Anglian region under 25 years old converted to Radio Caroline, the plucky gang on the trawler just beyond the UK 3-mile limit that broadcast defiance to the authoritarian BBC. Of course the organisation could not maintain a broadcasting oligopoly as technology advanced; demands for bits of the FM spectrum from a multitude of independent radio stations, the rise of analogue satellite TV and video rental. The BBC fought a rearguard action with some success until the internet came along. Then it was all over.

The BBC has been a long time dying. Its demise was on the cards, according to Parkinson's law, when it spent hundreds of millions on swish new headquarters, studios and executive office refurbishment. Big beasts take a long time to fall, and the BBC may still be with us after the next Charter renewal in 2027, but the era of expansion and an ever-increasing TV tax enforced through criminal law is coming to an end.

The Prime Minister clearly has a strategy. First, de-criminalise non-payment of the TV tax. This doesn't mean, as some MSM commenters have assumed, that payment would be voluntary - only that recovery would become a civil, not criminal matter. The 180,000 people every year hitherto prosecuted by the BBC in the magistrates' court would in future be defendants in the county court. As many of these simply can't afford the TV tax, the BBC has been happy until now to land them with a criminal conviction and fine, including the compulsory £15 'victim surcharge'. Those paying it are often foodbank users - the prosecutor is a £4bn a year behemoth. Just who is the victim here?

Using bailiffs or other recovery methods to enforce county court judgements for such low value debts will clearly challenge the BBC. TV footage of bailiffs seizing the pathetic belongings of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society (obviously this will not be shown on the BBC ...) will further turn the public against the broadcaster; cameras are banned from the magistrates courts, so their vindictiveness is currently hidden.

I expect there will be some sort of eminent, independent cross-party review of the Charter and its irrelevance in an age of digital diversity. There will be fudges and special interests will be accommodated. Expensive and unwieldy compromises will be enacted. It will take time. But this is the beginning of the end for the BBC as it is now, and the impact of its fall will smash the chains as effectively as did Stalin's gigantic statues when they toppled.

You really might enjoy this - Boris' final election video

Monday 9 December 2019

The 'Commercial gents' have lost their importance

Readers of Patrick O'Brian will be familiar with the author's benign contempt in the Aubrey / Maturin novels for the 'commercial gents'; rich city merchants, florid and grandiloquent, who wear patriotism like a cloak but whose only real interest is their own wealth. They are never entirely above suspicion of being willing to trade or deal with the King's enemies, of putting profit above patria, and O'Brian paints them unsympathetically. Yet trade and commerce are indeed the nation's 'life blood' - and today only the extraordinary success of British business has placed the UK fifth in the world's GDP league. 

But not all trade and commerce is good trade and commerce. Not all of it benefits the country and its people more than it benefits its owners - and that's the test. Why should UK trade policy be developed for the benefit of global shareholders whose activities have frequently disadvantaged both the country and its people? This issue has become much clearer in the minds of the electorate during the three years of Remain sabotage of the Brexit vote, with the CBI now dismissed as no more than a creature of the global corporates, and the car makers rightly identified as global hippies with no anchor to any nation, who will screw EU and government subsidies to put their car plants anywhere that pays their global shareholders maximum profit. Let's take a look at them -

Here you have the true importance of car making in the UK - it's almost exactly the same size as Romania's car industry, and substantially smaller than Poland's. And if you expanded the graphic to the whole world, we're exactly nowhere. The effects of globalism mean that the 'commercial gents' have lost some of their importance - and in this election, and in any future trade talks, their voices may be the loudest but that doesn't mean we should pay them the greatest heed.

Take fish and British waters. Farage talks a load of bollocks about this - as the Speccie explains -
Farage’s current predicament is rooted in a disastrous strategic decision he and an inner-circle of yes men took on the day Boris Johnson unveiled his new Withdrawal Agreement. Within minutes (possibly before the document had even been published) they decided to rubbish Boris’s deal as “not Brexit”. Farage bet the farm on being able to win that argument in the country. His aim was that the Brexit party would then take permanent possession of the huge Leave electorate, much of which had coalesced around it at the European elections.

Soon the Brexit party resorted to depicting things that applied only in the transitional period as if they would be permanent. There were claims Britain would be locked forever in economic alignment with the EU, unable to pursue an independent foreign policy or be in charge of what happened in UK fishing waters. It was even said the new Northern Ireland-only features could spell the end of the Union.

This position led inexorably to the logic that the Brexit party, as the only true Brexit option, must stand in every British mainland constituency at the general election. All other options – from standing aside altogether with a warning to Johnson that the Brexit party would be on his back during the next phase of future relationship negotiations, to fighting only a limited number of safe Labour seats in abandoned former industrial and coastal towns – were dismissed. But despite stirring up some of his Twitter followers against the Boris deal, Farage lost the argument among Leavers as a whole.
But Nigel's disastrous and mistaken strategy for BrexitCorp™ doesn't mean that fishing and our waters aren't important - but how important?

France is already making clear that it will block any trade deal unless the EU continues to have a right of access to UK waters. That's how important it is. On our own side the commercial gents from the City keep telling us that fishing represents a piffling little piece of the British economy, that financial passporting and the access of the City's merchants to European markets are far more important, and if it comes to push versus shove we should sacrifice our fish and waters for the good of the City of London.

Boris today moves the final days of his campaign to the Leave towns of the North. Voters here aren't dumb, and if they vote BXP it won't be because they've swallowed Nigel's distortions. It will be because they don't trust Boris not to give away the UK's fishing waters during a post-Brexit trade deal for the good of the commercial gents. And that, Prime Minister, is your key challenge in the North - to make it clear that British waters aren't up for negotiation.