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Monday 27 July 2020

The spin on the spin

There's been something of a triumph of spin on the EU's MFF share-out. Oh I don't mean the headlines, which we summarised last week, but the rationale. Spain and Italy get the biggest share for the next seven years because they have been hardest hit by Covid, the spin went. And hardly anyone said "Hold on - Covid hasn't gone. What if Poland goes down next year, or the Netherlands?"

Of course, as Rutte and Kurz know full well, Covid has been the cover for propping up the generous but unaffordable pension commitments in Spain and Italy. I told my old mate in the pub last night not to worry - Germany was paying for the mad Med pensions. He was just paying for Slovenia and Croatia. "What?

Austria pays €14bn into the MFF; Slovenia gets €1.2bn and Croatia €12.1bn. That's €1,580 from the purses of every Austrian and €2,969 into the wallets of every Croatian. "Croatia? Why do they need money? Have you seen the price of property there now? Their hotels cost the same as ours and are more fully booked, their trains are new, new stations, bridges - we paid for all that already".

I have my own suspicions - and they're around Tito's old nuclear power plant at Krško (say Crooshgo), shared between Croatia and Slovenia, due for decommissioning from 2023 but now extended for another twenty years. The EU insists it's safe, but our nuclear leak (and other civil emergencies) warning sirens are still tested every Saturday at 12 noon, and most folk have a 7-day course of Iodine pills in the first aid box.  More specifically, Croatia has a contractual obligation to take 50% of the nuclear waste by 2025, hasn't got anywhere to put it and Slovenia has run out of storage. That's my guess, anyhow.

That's the sort of thing that Covid is helping to hide. Don't tell the tourists headed for the Adriatic beaches that there's a nuclear waste dump behind the hotel, don't tell the punters hard at work in Munich that their taxes are being drunk by Luigi and Alphonse sitting in the sun outside their tavernas. Hey ho.

Sunday 26 July 2020

Could Covid save the Green Belt?

At engineering school we learned one of the costs of the black hole that is London, whose gravitational pull was once so great that everything in the island was drawn inexorably into its maw. In this case it was sand and aggregate - an effect known as the Aggregate Drag.

Essentially all sand and gravel quarried in the south-east is delivered in the direction of London; gravel from Chelmsford will go to London, gravel from Ipswich will go to Chelmsford and gravel from Diss will go to Ipswich. Likewise roadstone from the Midlands and the north is always (in aggregate, ahem, terms) delivered southwards. So pernicious are the economic and transport infrastructure effects of this drag that interventions have frequently been made with the intention of by-passing the movements. London plans have preserved sand and gravel wharves right in the heart of the city, from Deptford to Richmond, to take millions of tons of traffic from the roads radiating to Kent and Anglia. The aim is to take gravel from Diss and such parts direct to London and leave Ipswich and Chelmsford supplying themselves. Railheads have been established in Scots 'superquarries' that hollow-out entire mountains to send millions of tonnes of Scots roadstone directly into coating plants in the heart of London rather than into Northumberland. And so on.

London's insatiable demand for building and expansion led the well-intentioned but over-controlling planners of post-war London, with a masterplan known universally as the Abercrombie Plan, to create a green belt. In the same way as they sought to control Aggregate Drag they sought to control People Drag; establishing a series of new towns on the other side of the green belt. This is an original plan -

In recent years both councils and developers have been poised with back-hoe excavators at the ready (oh come on - you don't expect us to write 'bulldozers' on this blog ..) at the edge of the existing green belt - always somewhat smaller than the 1944 plan - doing the housing-queue equivalent of shroud-waving. At times it has been doubtful if the green belt can survive. However, Covid could change all that.

In a matter of months we have undergone a decade's worth (in more normal times) of change. The culture wars have left the workplace a minefield in which first smoking then alcohol and finally human contact has been banned as too hazardous. Lawyers and HR departments were in the ascendant, 'micro aggressions' lurked round every corner, and one couldn't even move someone's yoghurt pot in the office fridge without risking a misconduct hearing. You can get away with this nonsense in the BBC and the public sector, where maintaining the right diversity quota is always more important than actual output, productivity and efficiency, but the new mores have hit the private sector hard.

Covid has actually come as a welcome shock-adjustment for many firms. Overnight whole legions of HR executives monitoring breaches of fridge-etiquette are redundant, as are lawyers taking on yoghurt-pot cases for no win no fee. Workers can crack a beer in their home offices without breaching company policy, and hug their spouses or significant others without risk of disciplinary action. Of course we have still to work out some important stuff like how employer's liability in law will work if a home-worker trips on a printer cable, whether home offices are lawful in planning terms, who will pay for the heat, light, power and water consumed to the firm's benefit by household-based workers and so on. But such solutions will come.

More significantly, housing demand in and around London will start to fall. If you can work remotely from Harlow, why not Bishop Auckland? Or Austria? And if housing demand falls, then so will pressure to develop the green belt. Covid could turn out to be a very green disease. 

Friday 24 July 2020

EU trade talks latest

"Give up your rights under international law" 
"You're being unreasonable"

"Subject your trade to our political court"
"You're being very unreasonable"

"Allow us to dictate your national standards"
"There you go again - just unreasonable. Clearly you don't want a trade deal."

Thursday 23 July 2020

EU manages a deal that angers everyone

Just when you thought the farce that is the EU couldn't sink any lower, they've managed to agree a Covid recovery plan that has angered just about everyone. Spain and Italy are furious because they don't get enough, Germany Austria and the Netherlands furious because they're paying for what they are getting. The French are in a rage with Macron - who is hiding from them in his big gold palace; the Poles and Hungarians are ticked that any money is tied to changing their national mandates for Brussels' ones. The European Parliament is very cross with two of the EU's Presidents, VDL and Charles Michel. The Italians are incensed with Conte, the Dutch with Rutte. The Irish are demented that in Brexit year they will pay more and get less, and the Commission is vexed that Ireland has just won a tax fight against them. I've never known a deal be so successful in pitting so many of the EU's actors against eachother.

Unelected bureaucrats think they're happy because the deal has just ratcheted up federal power and authority, but at the cost of a big hit to public satisfaction, which will grow as the utter inadequacy of the MFF and Covid package becomes clear.

What's even more absurd is that they only got this deal because no-one wanted to go on record for this recent round being the longest ever European Council summit. It just beat the longest, we are told, by fifteen minutes. So glad. Pleased to see it's the PR merchants driving the talks not the national interests of 420m people and 27 nations.

The European Parliament, politico EU reports, wanted a deal €266bn bigger than Michel's starting point; instead they've got one about €130bn smaller.  Charles Michel's summary of the summit process - "Europe is united, Europe is present. We have demonstrated that the magic of the European project works because when we think that it is impossible, there is a spring in our step thanks to respect and cooperation." - must surely rank with Lyndon Johnson's 1964 Vietnam pledge that "We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves."

Boy, aren't we glad we left. 

Wednesday 22 July 2020

The fury of the scorned

Remainer fury yesterday was fierce, on the release by the Intelligence and Security Commission of the long-awaited Russia report. The fury on show extended to members of the committee itself. It was not, however, directed at the Russians, for having attempted to interfere in the 2014 Scots referendum, but at the entire Leave side, for the result of the 2016 referendum not having been subject to Russian interference.

They excoriated the security services for not finding something that wasn't there. They wanted, I bet, to excoriate the Russians for not having interfered. But most of all they were furious that the 52% won the referendum fair and square, when for four years FBPE stars  have tacitly supported suggestions that the Russians crooked the result. They failed even to find anything on Arron Banks, long the target of Russian smears. Brendan O'Neill has a piece in the Speccie hoping, I think naively, that this report will now end Russsian conspiracy whispers in relation to the referendum. I doubt it.

The report did however include one paragraph of note - but we have to read through the redactions -

One of the fundamental pillars of a free democracy, the integrity of the secret ballot, is largely safe - or it was when the committee took its evidence, and before the 2019 election.

What is safe is the process that involves stubby pencils on bits of string and collapsible hardboard voting booths, locked boxes being opened and votes counted in local town halls and sports centres. This, at least, Blair could not foul with his 'reforms'. However, I'll bet a pound to a pea that the redactions include reservations about the integrity of the postal voting system. It is this, rather than fantasies about the integrity of the 2016 referendum, that should now dominate the committee's concerns.

The 2019 general election saw the proportion of postal votes rise to 37%. At the same time, public confidence in the integrity of the postal vote process has fallen. Voters know what's going on, even if the Electoral Commission doesn't. What's extraordinary about the postal vote level in the 2019 election is that a 120-page report on the election by the Commons Research dept, a report that includes an analysis of everything from the weather on polling day to the numbers of spoiled ballots, makes not one mention of this extraordinary increase in postal votes.

Covid may mean great pressure to move to wholly postal voting, absent a vaccine. Before we acquiesce, we must be sure that the process is secure. Here is where members should turn their attention, not chasing remainer fantasies around the integrity of the 2016 referendum. 

The report is also critical of the extent of Lords' interests in Russian money, and the Mail points out Peter Mandelson's shareholdings in Russian defence firm Sistema, and that he previously sat on the company's board. Peter's interests aren't just Russian, though - he's also President of both the Great Britain China Centre and the German British Forum.

Tuesday 21 July 2020


I imagine it is kindness on the part of the government that allows 'Chief Nurse' Ruth May to encourage stories that she was dropped from the daily Covid briefings because she disagreed with the fact that Dominic Cummings did nothing wrong.

The alternative may be less palatable. It took only one appearance and one answer from Ms May for me to conclude that she simply wasn't up to it. At the podium she was an embarrassment. You can understand the Number 10 press office thinking - "let's have a nurse on, a nice reassuring homely nursey, spirit of the NHS, representative of the people .."

I'm not knocking nurses, but nurses are nurses, professors of epidemiology are professors of epidemiology and politicians driven and devious enough to have risen to ministerial level are, erm, politicians. And it really was better for Ms May that she was withdrawn when she was. She was never there in the first place for her scientific or public administration expertise, but as a misplaced bit of PR. Absent lions, Hilaire Belloc's Jim may have done no wrong.

Monday 20 July 2020

The cost of the Chinese dollar

It's awkward for the left. Their liking for China's state communist regime and support for the autocracy's dictators, the dreadful old waxworks, has come under strain in recent months as the disguise has come off and the CCP has been revealed as the brutal and inhuman force driving the sino jackboot. If you haven't seen Marr interviewing the Chinese ambassador yesterday on the concentration camp transports, I recommend it. The wolf warrior's wax almost melted. He clearly hadn't expected questions such as this from a comrade of the red banner, a fellow-traveller on the lefty path. If China's behaviour has been so egregious that even the British left are deserting them, things must be serious.

After having promised extended UK citizenship rights to Hong Kong's 3m potential BNO passport holders (Brexitcorp™  need not worry - not even a tenth of that number are likely to want to come to the UK) Raab is expected to suspend the UK's extradition treaty with China later today. This, after Huawei, will encourage China to make it even more difficult for its citizens to come to the UK, either to shop or study. Whilst this may be good news for the folk living within coach-trip drop-off from Bicester Village, Covid and the Chinese hiatus are causing deep gloom in the worst of the woke re-education camps that badge themselves as 'universities' - and the Scots will be the hardest hit.

Confident of ever more money flowing from London to Scotland to pay for it, the SNP bravely offered free degrees to not only native Scots but to EU citizens. In reality, it's been the PRC that has been picking up much of the tab. The CCP clearly regards UK universities as outposts of their own ideology, safe spaces for PRC ideologues. Glasgow University depends on fees from Chinese students for 31% of its income, the Mail reports. Edinburgh is at 20%. And it's not just the re-education camps - the local student economy in everything from bedsits to Bok Choi will be hit.

Already in Scotland the free Uni thing is turning sour as native Scots are finding their access is severely limited due to the SNP's economic mismanagement. The re-education camps are going to have to downsize a few barracks blocks. And short of Wee Nippy announcing that Scotland will become a Special Administrative Region of the PRC if they vote for independence, changes must be made. I suspect EU students are about to be axed from the free access programme, with Sturgeon seeking to put the blame on London. 

Saturday 18 July 2020

Keep pushing the BBC - they're wobbling

I wouldn't wish redundancy on anyone who doesn't welcome it, so there is no rejoicing at the downsizing of some 520 news staff now starting at the BBC. But for those fortunate enough to keep a job at the woke behemoth, it's only the foretaste of the chill wind that will blow. I have a feeling in my bones that peak woke has passed, in the UK anyway, and we are now tentatively starting on the pushback.

Charles Moore in the Telegraph describes perfectly today how the BBC has become the enemy of the decent majority in the UK. Moore is old enough to remember a Fleet Street ruled by the tyranny of print unions that had 'captured' the nationals. In those pre-internet, four-channel days of warbling Trimphones the 'Sun' sold some three or four million copies daily - or it did when the chapels allowed it to be printed. Rupert Murdoch and Margaret Thatcher fought that battle. We now need to fight the same battle to end the woke tyranny spearheaded by the BBC - a tyranny that has spread like a plague
Nowhere is this alliance between militant wokery and management cowardice more obvious than in the civil service. Diversity is a tool of producer capture. It allows aeons of management time to be spent thinking about the composition of the workforce rather than the needs of the “consumer” – the Government and the voters who elect it.

I was recently informed that a concept called “reverse mentoring” has entered the civil service. Senior staff of 30 years’ experience are each assigned to a young employee in, say, IT, who observes them at work and reports on whether they exhibit “unconscious bias”, “micro-aggressions”, and other sins which cry to Heaven for vengeance.
The Spectator this week carried several pieces -  one by Stephen Daisley cuts to the heart of the BBC's vulnerability, that having abandoned impartiality it has forfeited its place in the institutional Pantheon
The BBC has a different role, one so important that we are compelled by law to fund it. Yes, it informs, educates and entertains but, as I have argued on CoffeeHouse before, its real service is to national unity. The Corporation cannot unite us while becoming a mouthpiece for one side of a culture war.
Douglas Murray pens a hard-hitting piece for the Speccie, which also featured the resignation letter from Bari Weiss, forced from her job at the New York Times.  Murray writes
Publications like the NYT, who profess to be most opposed to ‘fake news’, continuously turn out to have been the era’s biggest purveyors of the thing they complain of. And campaigning journalists, imagining that they are acting in the name of decency, turn out to behave so indecently that they bully out a minority, dissenting opinion from their ranks.
And indeed Charles Moore is amongst those that make direct comparisons between the NYT and the disgraceful witch-hunts at the BBC such as those championed by Emily Maitlis. Andrew Neil's position at PHG effectively makes him the Speccie's Chairman, a job that has no editorial control, but has nevertheless provoked ill-informed probing, which may have found ears within the woke echo-bubble that is W1A - for Neil's outstanding politics programme itself fell victim to the corporation's axe

Elsewhere, the TPA carries a piece on the BBC's appalling waste - a throwback to the Fleet Street printworks that carried hundreds of unnecessary printworkers when the job could be done by a few dozens, even printing three million papers a day. Which reminds me that I visited the Wapping works back in the 1980s one chill dark November night as the Sun was being printed and one thing that struck me, apart from the size of the rolls of paper, was how much machinery there was, and how few people.

Finally, the rapid growth, funding and public support for the #DefundTheBBC movement must be causing a few wobbles in W1A - Calvin Robinson in Spiked gives an inside view.

It seems the BBC has stumbled into the cardinal error for a news organisation - that of becoming the news, rather than reporting it.

Thursday 16 July 2020

The death of London - but not of the City

Allister Heath delivers the synapse-tingler this morning in the 'graph. The death of London. Of course one needs to remember what pre-war London was like to appreciate the possibilities - and understand the damage wrought by Patrick Abercrombie and the London County Council. 

London was not just an agglomeration of villages but of little towns. Domestic service remained widespread and food was distributed through local shops and markets via the huge food wholesale markets at Billingsgate, Smithfield and Covent Garden. London's docks brought sugar and produce from around the globe. Fresh milk was either from the few dairies still with herds of cows kept stalled in the heart of the city but more often by train from dairies such as Lord Rayleigh's in Chelmsford, built adjacent to rail lines to allow rapid transport of milk.

Light industry was spread evenly throughout the city and small workshops, factories, warehouses and ateliers were scattered everywhere - even up to the walls of the Tower, where a dock connected the Empire to the canal network. After the Blitz, the Abercrombie plan changed it all. Industry was banished to the outskirts, new road networks and warehousing hubs replaced rail, people were to be housed in suburbia and the dense inner terraces were to be flattened (those that the Germans hadn't already flattened, that is) to make way for new concrete office blocks. It was to become a Soviet planned City. But the LCC's planned changes were continued into the 21st century by further phases of more organic change driven by economics and unconnected local planning preferences that had a cumulative effect -
A few years ago, Bridget Rosewell, an economist, revealed how the capital lost 1 million, mostly manufacturing, jobs on radial routes in the suburbs over three decades and created 1 million, mostly high-value-added services jobs in central London. Suburban factories and offices became homes. Economic activity became hyper-concentrated in the centre. This model was seen globally as a triumph of renewal. There were risks: it was contingent on staving off urban decay, avoiding terrorism, making sure taxes were not hiked, ongoing vast subsidies to public transport, continued globalisation, containing property prices – and yes, avoiding pandemics.

As to the downsides: the rest of the UK failed to pull off its own transition, becoming addicted to transfers from London; and the capital’s culture shifted corrosively, becoming the epicentre of Remainia, Corbynite attitudes and intolerant illiberalism.
We have a London that is dangerously unbalanced, seeded with the cankers of disorder in the ugly post-war Abercrombie public housing estates, already drowning the city in a welter of teenage blood. Only the city's wealth and massive levels of public service provision have kept a lid on things. But all that is about to change -
The private sector, for its part, is facing gargantuan structural losses: the economics of offices and retail is predicated on mass commuting and tourism. The former won’t fully come back; the latter will take a year or two. The arts, luxury, fashion, transport, hospitality, restaurant and many service industries face decimation. It’s a full-on biotic crisis: London’s economic ecosystem is suffering an immense decline in diversity. Lower-paid jobs, in particular, are being culled; the population could fall, with tens of thousands returning to Europe.
As Sadiq Khan will shortly learn, there is no more money. This first lockdown has busted the bank.

But what of the City, the square mile, now with an offshoot in Docklands? Well, the City has always been independent of the LCC, the GLC and now the GLA and thus stands a good chance of making decisions to its own benefit. The concatenation of related expertise will keep London's place in the financial world. There may be a retreat from Canary Wharf - those vast towers may empty, along with the thousands of service jobs emptying the bins and flipping burgers for the thousands of clerks as the clerks get their P45s in September. However, the square mile, with its own police force and local authority, will tough it out. Heath is bullish - allow the change, take the hit
Boris Johnson must not seek to prop up bankrupt central London investors. Instead, he must allow the market to work, and encourage Tory heartlands – suburbia, exurbia and smaller cities – to hoover up London refugees, workers who no longer need to commute daily.
London saw house price rises of over 750% between 1995 and 2015. Anyone who hasn't already cashed-up will need to stick it out now - just batten down and wait a decade or two.

Tuesday 14 July 2020


Nothing illustrates the character of the British better than reactions to the mask-up. Here, when just about all but food shops and tobacconists were shut in a lock down, masks were compulsory from Day One. The first few days the law was in force, a staff member stood outside the door handing out masks to anyone who hadn't brought one. It wasn't over-prescriptive; a variety of scarves, pashminas and home-made coverings went unremarked - just so long as mouth and nose were covered. There were no arguments. Everyone complied. It wasn't a big thing.

More remarkably, there was practically no debate in advance over whether it would or wouldn't be effective, whether it was an unbearable imposition on civil liberties or on exactly how it was to be enforced. There were no impassioned declarations of defiance, no rebels vowing to die of starvation rather than don a mask in Tesco, no police chiefs planning cell capacity for mask-rebels. 

That the UK will present an almost totally opposite reaction is actually a good thing. It's part of a British character that would also not have accepted without demur that Jews had to wear yellow stars or Downs children must be handed over for euthanising. And yes, I'm quite sure the PM agonised over it. He really is a libertarian - as Michael Deacon points out in the Telegraph -
We appeared to be watching a wrestling match between two sides of Mr Johnson’s personality. The side that is libertarian, laissez-faire and stoutly opposed to State meddling – and the side that, on the whole, would quite like fewer people to die of Covid-19.
Well, I can only point out that Austria got on top of the first wave very quickly, with a mortality rate much lower than the UK's. How much of this was due to masks and how much to cleanliness, distancing and a very low population density I simply can't hazard an opinion. Mask prices here have fallen from 37.50€/50 to 15.99€/50 and as a second wave is now inevitable - which may actually be more severe than that in the UK - it's a good time to stock up.  

Monday 13 July 2020

Aten vs Amun - Culture Wars reprised

Back in Ancient Egypt the land had many gods, who were worshipped more or less equally, to keep them all happy. Until that is one pharaoh came along and decreed that one god in particular was to be favoured - the disc of the Sun. This chap had been known as Amun-Ra until then; he became Aten. The other gods were to be neglected, abandoned. The world's first recorded culture war had broken out. And just as iconic images of women have changed today to feature huge arses, swollen lips, tiny waists and cartoonish features in a hideous distortion of the human form, they did exactly the same during the cult of the Aten. Distorted, unnatural.

Well the Aten thing lasted only about twenty years. Then the iconoclasts got to work destroying all those images of distorted people and throwing down the authoritarian decrees dictating what they could and couldn't say. Banned words were unbanned, and Egypt got back to normal, with extra sausages for all the gods who had been neglected for two decades and were feeling a bit miffed.

It was never about Sun gods, of course, just as the current culture war isn't really about black lives or pronouns or the rights of girls with todgers. It was an attempted take-over of Egyptian society by a metropolitan elite. That's not to say it didn't have a lasting effect - perhaps a greater prominence for the new ideas, a broadening of tolerance as established thinking shifted in its seat to accommodate the newcomer.

The Polish election is just another skirmish in the current culture war. Right now, as I write, it's too close to call. It's between a metropolitan liberal, comfortable with sexual diversity and open to new values and his opponent, a traditional maintainer of Polish dignity, big in the country and with those aged over 50. Whichever way it goes, it won't be an end of the schism.

And so with our own dear nation. The grounds of the skirmishes are rarely at the heart of the grounds of the war. We will see many small shifts of allegiances and mini-alliances formed and broken as a score of factions, a hundred factions, all jostle to be heard. Hey ho.

Huge arses and trout pouts are a feature of culture wars, it seems

Saturday 11 July 2020

Reasons to be cheerful

The latest polls out yesterday put the Conservatives on 46%, a good ten points ahead of Labour on 36%. Not bad for a government in power, not bad for a government that has blundered through the Wuhan virus and not bad for a government facing an opposition that should be enjoying a bounce. As I predicted, Captain Hindsight is not a leader to win the election in 2024 but to reform the Labour party to give it a good crack at 2029.

That the Conservatives are really annoying not only the comrades but elements of the authoritarian alt-right means the party is getting it right. That the PM is a one-nation libertarian much like myself gives me a good feeling, and gives little traction to an attempted counter-reformation move last week by Hammond, Gaulk and their media supporters. These supranationalist dags of the global corporates could only accuse the PM of being 'authoritarian' - a frankly laughable accusation. Sweeties, a strong and confident libertarian remains a libertarian.

We have a cabinet adjustment due in the autumn and we know already that David Frost is due to take over as National Security Advisor in September. The triumvirate at the heart of change, the PM, Dominic and Michael Gove, will be strengthened. Reform is high on the agenda - the NHS, PHE, the Electoral Commission and the BBC are already scored, and the Integrated Defence Review should be ready to report. So Health and Defence are key cabinet seats to watch.

As Nick Drew has for some time pointed out over at C@W, green energy is now going mainstream. Business is taking it on in a big way. And here again our reclamation of our 200 mile EEZ should stand us in good stead. The shallow North Sea, and in particular the Dogger Bank, most of which is British, make offshore wind an easy win for the UK, to an extent that could surpass our daily grid demand. At night, when we're not using power, it can be used to make Hydrogen, the combustion fuel of the future. And all those empty North Sea wells also in the UK zone give us a fantastic storage potential for CO2.

Green has broken free of the XR cranks and has gone mainstream. And the public, the voters, have also accepted this is the way to go.

In the Culture War, the PM's open refusal to kneel to imagined guilt gets the support of 67% of the British public, and of all libertarians, and leads a pushback against the tyranny of the metropolitan mob. Little Owen Jones, a spiteful and vicious leader of the Cancel culture, may have realised in a Marat-moment that the hate could turn back on him. In 1793 Jones would have been the shrieky hysterical little sans-culotte offering head after head to Madame Guillotine.

For the financial backers of the several attempted blows against the government, you've lost your money. These pushes for power either succeed at first instance or they fade and falter into background attritional noise. The attempted coup around the orchestrated attempts to get Dom came closest, but exposed the key players and marked them for later disposal - to be sidelined into irrelevance, excluded from the circles of power, briefed against and so on.

Of course we've still got the collapse of the global economy and a lethal pandemic virus to crack, but all in all things look good. Many reasons to be cheerful. 

Thursday 9 July 2020

Public blunder - it's Crimea all over again

A tempest is blowing through the complacent hubristic corridors of power in Whitehall. They have been tested and have failed utterly and humiliatingly, and now they must face the gales of change.

NHS central procurement and NHS and PHE central testing, we were told yesterday, wasted £25bn due to incompetence, a confused commitment to central command and control, a concentration on fashionable management nostrums and jargonistic pabulums rather than on efficiency and effectiveness. It was the rule of dire and dismal senior managers with a focus on reducing sugar in breakfast cereal rather than saving lives. It is the grossest and most culpable mismanagement; indeed we have seen nothing like it since the debacle in the Crimea exposed the manifold failings of army management.

You may know how the media and the telegraph shone the disinfectant sunlight into the dark establishment corners of mismanagement, blunder and stupidity in Crimea. Medical and logistic failures. Troops with no tents or winter clothing, no means of preparing food hygienically, inadequate medical care, flogging at the wheel, a system of buying commissions that left the army in the command of idiots and fools. The British public at the time were outraged - but the establishment aristocrats who ran the army closed ranks and blocked all attempts at reform, for a while at least. It took Prussia's thrashing of the Kermits and an establishment panic that eventually allowed Cardwell's reforms of 1870 - 1881. Barely a generation short of powered flight and the cinema we stopped flogging servicemen.

The Whitehall establishment will make the same impassioned defence of their blunder, malfeasance and incompetence as did those cretin generals back in the 1850s. They are as far out of their depth now as they were at the time of Crimea. They have no place in office, no place in power, no place in control of our taxes and no place in a democracy with a government with a mandate to cleanse them.

Pre-Nightingale NHS hospital in Crimea - disease prevention by PHE

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Rogue nations, book burners and ethics

Many who have business or overseas contacts with not only Chinese but many people from SE Asia will know the importance of 'face' - and of saving and losing face. The raucous, primitive, violent and abusive nature of social media is not a happy place for those with such sensitivities, yet several times, normally after I have criticised China, I have received a wounded but polite little note. I suspect they're from Chinese students doing their compulsory two hours a day on the interweb defending the motherland - 'chide gently to bring offender onto path of righteous truth' or something. Yesterday China avoided the stigma of sanctions for human rights abuses announced by Dominic Raab in the Commons against named officials. The loss of face if Chinese individuals are named as human rights abusers would be grievous. 

He certainly managed to hit a spot with Russia, KSA, Burma and North Korea, though only the first three pretend to be liberal if not quite democratic. Chinese executions, concentration camps, organ harvesting and repression haven't earned them this disgrace as yet - maybe we still need their PPE. The latest repressive security law imposed on the people of Hong Kong literally encourages the book burners - books condemned by the Beijing regime are, even as I write, being seized and destroyed; Hague writes about it in today's 'graph

It is however Russia and China that are stoking the fires of the Culture War on the internet in an effort to destabilise the West. Whilst naive and credulous children are rioting on the street in London because someone called a trannie a tranny on the interweb, Sergei Magnitsky and Jamal Khashoggi, a lawyer and a journalist, were being murdered by their own state officials. 

And it's partularly important to distinguish between people and regimes, between holy Russians and Putin's gangster regime, between China's Beijing autocrats and the people of Hong Kong. These subject peoples simply don't enjoy the democratic freedoms that we take for granted; the rampant voting corruption even in Putin's most recent referendum on his own tenure is accepted with just a shrug of the shoulders. 

Whilst I'm encouraged by our finally moving out of the twentieth century and into one in which GRU assassins and CCP executioners, Korean torturers and Saudi head-choppers are not only unacceptable but that such actions have consequences, we cannot be complacent about the threats that such rogue nations pose to our liberal democracy. At least it seems we now accept that China, Russia, KSA and the like are not benign regimes but threats to our way of life. Now we must reform our economies to stop selling them arms and technology and buying from them factory goods and fuel that are killing their own citizens and undermining ours. 

The global corporates have been quick enough to respond to inconsequential movements such as BLM. Let's now test them with a commercial and trade policy in line with an ethical foreign policy when human lives and human freedoms rather than hurt feelings are at stake. 

Rogue states are once again burning books

Monday 6 July 2020

Aircraft and theatres

I trust you all had a decent weekend and hope that many of you managed a visit to the pub. The pub, of course, is far, far more than just a sector of the entertainment industry - it is local democracy in evidence, a temple to free speech and expression, free from the constraints of remote censorship but subject always to peer evaluation. Drunk people may be incapable of maintaining social distancing, one police service senior manager opined, and undoubtedly for many who managed to get a leg over at the weekend there will be a degree of gratitude for this grievous failure.

The question this morning is what is the difference between an aircraft and a theatre, in epidemic terms that is? Why is it OK to sit close to a group of people for several hours in an aircraft but not OK to do so in a theatre? I suspect there may be an answer in the air filtration and circulation systems, but it's hardly convincing.

It seems we've found the path to living with Covid some months after other nations - testing, testing and testing. Sweatshops, meat plants, overcrowded housing and other risk environments will all incubate new outbreaks, but the more swiftly we detect and contain them, the more the rest of the economy can attempt to recover before the big dip hits.

One final tiny point is niggling at me. Is the imaginary line that separates the legal and administrative jurisdictions of Scotland and England a border or a boundary? I'm genuinely not sure.

Saturday 4 July 2020

Map frenzy

Sometimes one unintentionally hits a nerve. So it was this week when scrolling through my Twitter timeline I saw a map posted by a US academic I follow; just as a comment in response I put up another map. Here they are -

If I'd wanted to get a full flavour taste of the culture war in the US I couldn't have done better; over 50,000 impressions and a representative array of comments from the hostile (essentially the US Census Bureau was racist for making such a map) to the scientific and including a score from Americans who had little idea they were so German. Well, there may or may not be a correlation there, but the important thing is we're six months into this pandemic and we still don't fully understand it. So anything that might point to risk is relevant.

I'd like to see more maps. I'd like to see maps of poverty, overcrowding, extent of medical insurance, housing tenure and other potential factors. I'd like to know more about those lands and reservations in which native Americans have been so badly hit - their populations were devastated by coronaviruses caught from Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries. You can never have too many maps. 

And for the apparently huge cohort of Americans who have never seen a map of their own ancestry made by their own government before, well, glad to have been of assistance in improving your knowledge. Knowledge often leads to wisdom.

Wednesday 1 July 2020

The City reboots itself

The threat from Brussels was as crude as one from any third-rate mafia hoodlum - 'Give us all your fish or we'll destroy the City'. The more old-maidish amongst the commercial gents, probably the sort who would have advocated giving Mr Hitler exactly what he wanted, were quick to point out in their broadcasts and newspaper columns that fishing was a tiny fraction of the UK's GDP, a piddling insignificant part of the economy, and should certainly be surrendered to save the City. Indeed, if Catastrophe May had still been in power, she would have tried to do so. Fortunately for us this government is made of sterner stuff.

The City itself seems to have shrugged-off the threats, as Matthew Lynn wrote yesterday in the Telegraph. Indeed, his entire piece is so upbeat it's hard to pick a single snippet to quote; we're turning our backs on EU regulation and our faces out to the world, and the City is starting to feel the stirrings of that old buccaneering spirit again, after forty years under the sclerotic over-regulation of the unelected officials in Brussels. It's not a puff-piece though - there's a potential hard reality -
Step by step, the City, under the control of the Bank of England and the Treasury, is shaping its own regulatory system. True, there are risks in that. The City may lose access to European markets. That matters. British financial exports to the rest of Europe amount to £26.1bn, or 21pc of total UK services sold across the Continent, and that is far more than we import. And yet, despite that, it is still the right decision.
My own view is that right now, and for the immediate future, the EU simply won't be able to deliver on its Covid rescue package without the City. They will make whatever post-transition adjustments they need to secure continued access to the bits of the UK financial services nexus they need. But their ambitions are still to displace London with a hub of their own - Frankfurt, Paris or Amsterdam.

Of the three, Amsterdam is the only serious contender and although, handicapped by the EU as it is, it will never overtake the City, it will provide healthy competition and stimulate continuous innovation and improvement in London. They're like us; northern, with a liking for legal probity. Germany is too corrupt, the courts too partisan and biased, shareholder protection the worst in Europe, creditor safeguards too low and business is endemically bent. Frankfurt is a dreary little provincial town, Paris is too frivolous and France too bankrupt.

Standing up to bullies has more benefits than just exposing their weakness. It allows us to discover we still have a spine - and for the City, the scent of freedom is intoxicating.

Monday 29 June 2020

A new world

Well, we didn't expect that to happen so quickly.

Let's just take a quick recap of the shifts in defence and security policy over the past few years. Reviews are now normally every five years; past reviews in 2010 and 2015 were typical dilettante Cameronian fudges; the future was supranational and international, UN good, NATO good, EU better. And we've ended up with a pair of carriers that were obsolete as soon as they rolled down the slipway, so vulnerable to a new generation of hypersonic missiles that they can't be let anywhere near a war zone. Possibly useful as a platform for fishing surveillance drones, though - anchored in the North Sea, bang in the middle of our EEZ, each housing a clutch of admirals. Unless we can persuade the EU Navy to buy one. Our Type 45's may be able to detect and shoot down a cricket ball travelling at the speed of sound, but that's not much use when the enemy are using missiles a lot faster than the speed of sound rather than fast cricket balls to sink our carriers.

Anyway, from 2017 Mark Sedwill was charged with conducting a run-up to the 2020 review, which needed to be broadened to include threats from State Actors. Tanks are out, deniable actions by unmarked troops are in. As Putin has shown in the Donbass, you can get away with it. And as the Salisbury poisonings and a score more GRU assassinations elsewhere have shown, even when they know it's you, what can they do, apart from ineffective sanctions and a handful of diplomatic expulsions? So long as Germany is dependent on Putin's gas, he has a get-out-of-jail-free card. China too has been a disruptor, using state cyber attacks on other nations' infrastructures as well as armies of hackers who infiltrate and disrupt social media. Iran's shipnapping in the gulf is open.

If Cameron was a dilettante, May was Queen of Chaos. She hadn't got a clue what she wanted, so long as she could keep it secret and keep the public, non-government experts and parliament away. Catastrophe May was a brainless ditherer, a dunderhead. On the basis that any plan was better than no plan, Sedwill acted in what he genuinely thought were the nation's best interests. He went to Washington to talk with those conducting Trump's review. He sent trusted civil servants to Brussels to tentatively commit the UK to EU defence plans. He invented the 'Fusion' strategy, allowing the UK to do everything at once with an Eton mess of defence, security, economic and other resources.

None of this made it through to what was scheduled to be the 2020 defence and security review. On taking office in 2019 Boris radically altered the terms of reference and downgraded Sedwill's role. Dominic Cummings had also long been a vocal critic of the UK's disastrous defence procurement regime. When Covid demonstrated that Whitehall's procurement systems couldn't even procure a few boxes of gowns and face masks, it was also an explicit admission that our mandarins couldn't be trusted with buying stuff like ships. Dom has written on his blog, bookmarked here, that utterly unfit Whitehall procurement "has continued to squander billions of pounds, enriching some of the worst corporate looters and corrupting public life via the revolving door of officials/lobbyists".

Champions for the MoD such as Michael Fallon and George Robertson have tried to not only hold the UK to our 2% of GDP commitment for defence but to increase this to 2.5% or even 3%. Defence interests - the admirals and generals - have done everything they can to ringfence 'their' 2% to tanks and ships and fast jets. Simply, their ideas are as redundant as the useless carriers we've just acquired.

The USMC has just junked all its tanks.

The decades to come will mean we must fight on the battlegrounds on which we are being attacked - green men, state assassins, cyber war. The ring-fencing that the men in medals want won't work. We need a mash-up of MoD, GCHQ, SIS and MI5, FCDO and the City. We need to throw into the pot the MoD's 2% of GDP, DfID's 0.7% and the billions of secret squirrel money. On the face of it, Sedwill's 'Fusion' idea was in the right direction - but the man had a 'reservation of mind' that meant interests other than the elected government's played a part in his delivery.

And Covid buggers everything. When GDP shrinks by 20%, 2% of that smaller pot will buy far fewer F35s or anti-cricket ball destroyers. Lord Frost will have exactly the right skill set, and will be able to put together exactly the right team to deal with that new reality. And my sincere hope is that Labour's front bench under Starmer can put a broad shoulder behind the UK's national defence and security strategy - after all, they may have to live with it from 2024.    

Saturday 27 June 2020

Doctor Bew and the malice of Davos

Way back in February, lost in the panic of the emerging threat from the Wuhan virus, the PM issued a written statement to Parliament setting out the terms of a comprehensive Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. Four months on, the merger of DfID into the FCO to form the FCDO from September was announced - just the first of the many changes to come. Undertaking the review, the PM announced, "a cross-Whitehall team in the Cabinet Secretariat, and a small taskforce in No10, will report to me and the National Security Council".

Snippets of news are also leaking that Mark Sedwill is deeply unhappy and may not last out the year wearing his triple crown of Cabinet Secretary, Head of the Civil Service and, since 2017, National Security Advisor. I strongly suspect it is the hubris of the last of those jobs that has been most greatly provoked.  For last year Boris brought in to the Number 10 policy unit Professor John Bew of Kings - and Bew is leading the PM's team. To get a flavour of John Bew's world view, I recommend the list of papers he has authored or co-authored, listed on his Policy Exchange home page. In particular, his paper on a post-Brexit NATO is as sound as granite. It comprehensively smashes many of the fatuous pabulums peddled by EUphiles in Whitehall and Parliament, and by supporters of PESCO and the UN -
- There is a false narrative about NATO that presents it as being less important than, or even contrary to, British involvement in the United Nations.
- Another false narrative that risks undermining NATO is the idea that it is the European Union that has kept Europe at peace for more than half a century.
- For most of NATO’s existence, with the exception of a brief period in the 1980s, there has been a broad consensus on the frontbenches of the major British political parties as to the Alliance’s vital importance to UK interests and European security.
- There is no viable successor to NATO as the guarantor of European security or the foundation stone of transatlantic unity.
In re-affirming the primacy of internationalist rather than supranational solutions to security threats, Bew will risk the malice of the Davos globalists as well as the fifth-column inside SW1.

John Bew is Professor of History and Foreign Policy in the War Studies department at King’s - an outpost of academic probity and scholarship that has so far managed to resist the contagious madness that is sweeping through academia. The same department has also given us David Betz and MLR Smith, both very much alive to the concept of State Capture, and co-authors of a paper for the Bruges Group in January 2019 -
For thinkers like Adam Smith the rule of law was intended to maintain balance and ensure the integrity and fairness of the market to prevent monopolistic behaviour. In a not dissimilar manner, the role of parliament in a mature democracy like Britain was to balance out competing interests and claims to power, which included giving a voice to the lower orders. For such a system to flourish it required parliamentarians to be somewhat representative of the people who elected them. Thus, they functioned as the will of the people in parliament, whom through dialogue and debate would mediate and resolve issues in a manner that broadly accorded with the expressed wishes of the electorate.

With the rise of the new political classes, a different political dynamic is emerging. Drawn from similar backgrounds (often middle-class, university educated, with little prior career experience outside politics itself), members of parliament increasingly sound alike, think alike and act alike. The evolution of a monochrome political establishment is producing a radical disconnect, which the Brexit denouement is throwing into stark relief. What we appear to be witnessing is the corrupt mutation of the notion of the representation of the people in parliament, into the substitution of the will of the people by the interests of the political class. We are entering the realms, no less, of state capture. What happens when sectional interests capture the political institutions of the state?
This is a question we will get to, but first it is worth reiterating that in many senses this has been a long time coming, and to emphasise, in the British case has little or nothing intrinsically to do with Brexit.
Unwinding more than forty-years of 'the long march through the institutions' would tax the most capable of governments even in normal times. That those who have marched into the heart of the State are not in this instance Gramsci's communists but a privileged and elite minority who have lost touch with an electorate that gave the Party an 80 seat majority last year makes it much harder. The burdens of the Wuhan virus makes the task almost but not quite a Sisyphean burden.

I am unequivocally ready to give everything I can to support the government's internal struggles. The so-called Culture War is a sideshow, a big frothy flatus that will burst and fade as the economic crisis descends. We cannot divert our attention from the fight that matters -  reclaiming the State.

Friday 26 June 2020

Police are not immune to Instagram culture

Back in Suffolk in the 90s I used to rough shoot with a bloke who'd bagged several empty Halls to market and sell; this was before City, pop-star and footie player money moved out into the country, and though just about every village had its Hall house, an astonishing number were empty and unwanted. Anyway, point is this gave him many hundreds of acres of rough shooting whilst he was agent. One morning after shooting the grounds of Mockbeggars Hall we stopped at the village shop for a couple of ham rolls. The cottage next door to the shop had been bought by a county copper, who had an irrational dislike of anyone parking outside his house. Not a great deal of foresight in that mind. Sure enough, while we were in the shop he was out there examining the Landy for Road Traffic Act breaches. In the (locked) back were our guns. He was pumped like a toad when we came out

"Do you know how many times I've had to face someone holding a shotgun?" he demanded

"Never" replied my mate,  a Countryside Alliance gun-rights star, with a hard light in his eye. He did actually know every single shotgun crime incident in the county for the past twenty years and was just waiting for the parking space bully to challenge him. The toad crumbled, mumbled a few words of advice about gun security and retreated into his cave.

Today of course, a selfie with the Landy in the background would be on Instagram within minutes. If there's one myth plod loves to perpetuate about the Job it's their contact with weapons. That and dead bodies. "Do you know how many bodies I've had to ...." must be the most popular opening police line in constraining human joy - and in most cases the answer will be, as it was with our plod, "None".

So when two junior officers were tasked with guarding a murder crime scene recently, neither could resist taking selfies with the dead and posting them to Whatsapp. How many more officers have done the same, and keep the pics on their phones, so if anyone challenges them with a "none" they can provide evidence that they have, in fact, seen a human dead body? Police are no more immune to the Instagram culture than any others of their age, background and education.

There is a serious question. Should we continue to allow police officers to go on duty with their mobiles? Or members of the armed forces, or the emergency services? Or should we just accept that these distasteful records are a part of modern human culture?

Thursday 25 June 2020

Wirecard - German corruption comes to bursting point

There's a magnificent lightning storm outside and thunder is roiling in the valley, I have a packed and frantic day ahead anyway and last night at about 9pm to cap it all the crew who had been working since dawn to get the hay in were standing abjectly at my front door. When wrapping the vast hay-balls in the flat field above my back meadow, one of the bales had taken off down the hill and smashed a corner off my barn roof. OK. I'll deal with that as dawn comes. But with regard to the Wirecard fraud story, I hope you'll forgive me for re-posting a 2019 post -


30th April 2019
The stench of corruption from Germany's businesses

Back in April 2018 we ran a fairly lengthy piece on German corruption. The German government had in effect encouraged widespread business corruption with law changes that made it easy to get away with - and for the past decade, it has been pervasive, deep and substantial. We quoted a report that found
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.
So who cares if most of German business is bent, the nation's judicial system ranks with Greece in terms of probity, shareholder protection is amongst the lowest in the developed world and there is little creditor protection? Who cares that courts and lawyers are beyond the reach of most victims, who must passively take the hits from German corrupt dealing?  Well, we wrote
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.
Yesterday Matthew Lynn broke yet another tale of German corruption in the Telegraph. The latest scandal is fraud at Wirecard - a rapidly ascending start-up that replaced the moribund Commerzbank in Germany's DAX index. The Telegraph and the FT are reluctant to be too specific; one suspects m'learned friends are hovering, and even the linked piece in the Anti-Corruption Digest is careful. Lynn writes
We have an image of Germany as a very law-abiding country, and on one level that is certainly true. The streets are safe, and no one can pay a bribe to get out of a parking fine.... yet right at the top of the country’s biggest companies it is starting to look painfully obvious there is an honesty issue.

The Germans are fond of portraying themselves as the exemplars of responsible, socially conscious capitalism. In truth, however, the hypocrisy is starting to become nauseating. There is clearly something rotten within Germany’s business culture – and even worse, no one seems to want to do anything about it.
It is the sort of casual, 'who cares?' corruption that saw Martin Selmayr's crooked appointment to EU capo shrugged off and Germany's biggest industrial names reduced to international gutter reputations no better than bootlegging prohibition gangsters.

So don't be surprised that when the downturn begins to bite, the entire German commercial edifice comes tumbling down - and the German economy proves as much of a paper tiger as did Soviet military might in 1989.

Siemens, VW, DB and all the other past disgraces and now Wirecard. But why has it taken 14 months since Matthew Lynn broke the story (carefully) in the 'graph? Germany's business culture stinks like week-old Mackerel, and the Autumn will see an overflowing of the German bent business cesspit as the Covid recession bites far deeper than the bubble-bursting I was expecting when I penned that piece. You'll need your facemasks - the stench will reach every corner of Europe.

Tuesday 23 June 2020

They must let Scotland go

No, no not the nation. The Blairite life-peer who has headed the Commonwealth secretariat for the last four years, and whose term is now coming to an end. We are about to embark into the world as a sovereign independent nation seeking trade deals, new relationships, a post-globalist and internationalist thrust, a re-orientation of perspective. What qualities would you look for in a Secretary-General?

Well they probably wouldn't be those displayed by Scotland. Hauteur. Extravagance. A dodgy contract awarded to her mate from Bradford. Some 50 breaches of procurement rules perhaps awarding contracts to other chums. An illegal Tongan maid. Scotland is a very grand lady indeed, and she seems to love the pomp and status that goes with the job, the Commonwealth less so. In response to what is seen as chaotic and potentially corrupt mismanagement of the Commonwealth secretariat, the UK suspended its £4.7m annual contribution earlier this year until acceptable financial controls are in place.

The UK is just a member amongst many, of course, but is amongst the Commonwealth's biggest players. One assumes the CW would therefore look to another of the big hitters - India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia - to provide the next Secretary General. So far, Canada, Guyana, Nigeria, New Zealand and India have already provided post-holders. So Malaysia remains a possibility, as does Australia - but counter forces are at play.

First, Patricia Scotland doesn't want to go and has mobilised one or two of her Caribbean chums to support her. Secondly, in an era of BLM, the CW will be looking for potential candidates from Africa or the Caribbean. However, the next four years will bring many changes and challenges for our Commonwealth, and we need someone other than Scotland at the helm - for the sake of the organisation's 2.4 billion citizens from 54 nations including us.

Don't discount Chinese dirty tricks for this appointment - they want to block India, Australia and independent Pacific rim states and promote their tame African politicians, their mouths stuffed with Belt-and-Road gold.

And don't discount that the government's opposition to Patricia Scotland may involve similar reasons to which we aren't privy. 

Sunday 21 June 2020

Labour's love affair with Racial Hygiene

Funny old thing, history. Too often it defies the desires of the simple-minded for it to be neat and to conform with stereotypes. We have seen this week that the Guardian, woke rag of the snowflakes and soyboys, was itself founded on the profits of slavery. Those seeking reparations should perhaps look to the Scott Trust as a local port of call. And then there is the whole troubling history of the Labour Party's racist and totalitarian past, pursuing policies of compulsory sterilisation and the state controlled breeding of the British people to prevent race-dilution and mental defectives 'mongrelising' and 'polluting' the racial hygiene of the Isles. 

It was Major Archibald Church, Labour MP for Wandsworth, who as late as 1931 tried to get a compulsory sterilisation Bill through parliament, "in advance of public opinion". Hansard reports his speech
Of course, it may be urged that mere sterilisation is not enough. It may be urged that that will not cure the problem of mental disease. We are not suggesting that it would, but we are suggesting that the knowledge which has been obtained and the statistics which have been compiled as to the ancestry of mental defectives in a number of different States and countries, show that anything from 45 to 80 per cent. of the mental defectives in those various States and countries are so because they have inherited defective germ plasm. We are suggesting that it would be advisable to take the risk and sterilise all the defectives in the hope that by a generation or so we shall reduce the mental defectives to measurable quantities.
Hyacinth Morgan, opposing the Bill, said
The House has heard a harrowing tale which is mostly moonshine. The Bill is said to be in advance of public opinion, but it is really in advance of common sense and ordinary sanity. With regard to mental defectives there is said to be an increase rising crescendo in geometrical progression to overwhelm the world in an avalanche of mental backwardness, and to lure the progressive world headlong into an abyss of degenerate civilisation.
Of course Wandsworth and the mention of 'germ plasm' link Labour's Major Church with another dreadful old racist, the eugenicist Francis Galton, who inspired the founding of the Eugenics Society, which exists today (but perhaps not for much longer) as the Galton Institute, headquartered in Wandsworth.

Last week UCL announced that it was renaming a building named after Francis Galton because of his association with eugenics.  What other eponymous buildings, streets, structures, prizes and awards could be at risk?

Well, Labour and the Fabian Society were eugenics fascists in a big way. GB Shaw, of course, who wanted to use a 'humane lethal gas' in a sort of British Auschwitz as a final solution to mental defectives, Virginia Woolf who said of the mentally ill that "They should certainly all be killed", Huxley, Aldous and Julian, the latter wanting a scheme to inseminate (artificially, somewhat priggishly) British housewives with the sperm of superior white oxbridge graduates to improve the race, Harold Laski, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Beveridge, who spoke at meetings of eugenicists, JBS Haldane, Keynes himself and local south-London Labour MP heroes such as Will Crooks, whose views did not quite chime with those we hold today about the disabled. Crooks described disabled people as “like human vermin” who “crawl about doing absolutely nothing, except polluting and corrupting everything they touch”.

Can we can now expect a bonfire of eponymous monuments and memorials to these sick puppies?

How many residents of the Will Crooks Estate in Poplar know his racist and eugenicist views?
Of course, the nasty old slavery-funded Guardian also supported the eugenicists.
I'm afraid even the Manchester Guardian was not immune. When a parliamentary report in 1934 backed voluntary sterilisation of the unfit, a Guardian editorial offered warm support, endorsing the sterilisation campaign "the eugenists soundly urge". If it's any comfort, the New Statesman was in the same camp.
Writes Jonathan Freedland in a partially honest Guardian piece from 2012 - and indeed even the New Stasi has acknowledged some partial fault.

Be careful what you wish for, Comrades. 

Friday 19 June 2020

Sadiq Khan and Chief Dick - we're watching you

Policing a demonstration in modern times needs several things. It needs sections of coppers trained to work together, it needs a stock of fireproof overalls, helmets and protective equipment for them to wear, it needs live monitoring and surveillance of the crowds and above all it needs police managers and commanders of talent and ability.

The BLM march two weeks ago was a disaster for the Met. Officers in light summer patrol dress with soft caps faced a baying, vicious and violent mob, and turned, ran and abandoned our democratic heart to vandalism and graffiti. Command was chaotic, a counter plan unapparent. The Gold commander of that farce, whether straight or gay, male or female, black or white, must be removed from duty. We cannot pretend it was anything other than gross mismanagement.

Last week's protests were better commanded, with only two major lapses - the unmanned barriers and an open footway at King Charles St in the morning, and a failure to anticipate the clashes on the South Bank after 5pm.

Then there was the assault on the PM's car following PMQs this week. A group of more than six protesters was gathered in contravention of the law. Specifically, s.7 of the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020,
7.—(1) During the emergency period, unless paragraph (2) applies, no person may participate in a gathering which takes place in a public or private place—

(a)outdoors, and consists of more than six persons
They were watched by a few bored plods who were watching the nice shiny cars coming out of the palace of Westminster rather the protesters around them. One of the mob ran at the PM's vehicle, there was an emergency stop and a collision. It could have been an Islamist with a sticky bomb. Fail.

Again tomorrow, thugs will gather in London to seek to break the law, vandalise and destroy the public realm and to create fear and disturbance. We expect nothing less from the Met than that they uphold the laws made by our Parliament, a Parliament we elected. We expect the Met to prevent and to disperse any illegal gatherings of more than 6. We expect the Met to enforce the provisions of the Public Order Act. We expect the Met to safeguard our democratic heart in SW1, and to prevent mob damage to our national monuments.

Sadiq Khan and Cressida Dick, the eyes of the entire nation are on you tomorrow. We're watching you. We're watching you very closely.

Unpoliced illegal gathering - Chief Dick, please note

Thursday 18 June 2020

Told ya ...

From Wednesday 6th May

I have no confidence at all that the tracing app being developed by Whitehall will work. If it's up to the abysmal standards of error, malfunction, delay and inadequacy that have characterised the rest of the actions of the Department of Health, it will collapse half an hour after release, the first week''s central data will be hacked, warning SMS messages will be sent to everyone by mistake and the bluetooth errors will destroy thousands of phones.


A great ox has stood on your tongue

I must say it cheered my heart to have the old Boris back yesterday. The effects of Covid are debilitating, enervating and sap bounce. His trouncing of Starmer at the despatch box was a delight. Starmer is a Karen, a Frinton-on-Sea litter warden, and when Boris told him a great ox had stood on his tongue when he would not answer why he's sitting on the fence over schools re-opening he, like most of the rest of us, had little idea what he meant. They don't teach that sort of thing at Essex litter-warden school. 

Classicists told us later it was a parliamentary way of saying the teaching unions had bribed Labour; in some ancient time, the coinage depicted an ox, and an ox on the tongue was someone bribed to stay silent. Glad they cleared that up.

The abolition of DfID was just the start. Anything that draws a whinge from remainiac ex-PMs has got to be good. But he's got his work cut out - the war for the State is now out in the open, and it's us against those who have captured our establishment and institutions. As Allister Heath writes in the 'graph
The drift of the past two months has allowed the Left-wing establishment to reassert itself. The BBC has appointed one of its own as its new boss; an ex-Treasury, ex-IMF, Left-wing think tanker was appointed as head of the Office for Budget Responsibility; the CBI’s new boss used to advise Gordon Brown and work for the Guardian. The only economic policy we heard about – apart from the necessary spending of hundreds of billions to cushion the economy – were “green jobs”, state-infrastructure, government this and government that. The Left-liberal elites were beginning to hope again that Boris’ project was about to fail. The EU detected weakness, crashing the talks before seeking to prolong the transition.
With Boris at the helm, we're ready for the fight. Bring it on.

Keir Starmer bust commissioned by the teachers' unions?

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Fish reality starts to sink-in

Remainer minds are remarkably resilient, and none more so than that of Jeremy Warner in the 'graph. The poor chap can simply not conceive that control of our 200 mile EEZ is more important to the nation than bankers' bonuses. Even now it takes more torque than dragging your granny away from Corrie to penetrate that kind of thinking. Again today Warner writes
If it is true that the EU is on the verge of conceding that Britain should have the same control over fishing rights as enjoyed by Norway, it seems reasonable to assume that there will be no concessions on equivalence. An economically hugely important sector is about to be sacrificed to the politics of an insignificant one.
Jeremy, sweetie, listen up.

It really is not a matter of the EU 'conceding' anything. From next year under international law the UK becomes an independent coastal state. The EU have absolutely no say in the matter, none at all. They cannot prevent it. It is a matter of immutable fact.

How has the EU managed to convince an otherwise sane and rational man against all the evidence, the law, the actuality, that they still have some sort of say over this happening? Incredible.

Bone-headed ain't in it.

And don't worry about the City. The timezone, the language, the judicial system and courts and above all the critical mass of analogous expertises in a world city of unparalleled attractions will mean dull, provincial little towns with a mime theatre and two massage parlours such as Frankfurt will never come close to being a threat.

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Could the Wuhan virus save the car industry?

Investors may not have to write off the car makers and lease networks quite yet. As the dark lid of lockdown lifts, for many people their car is becoming a mobile extension to their virus-safe home. Bugger Greta, we're driving.

No problem for those of us with no carbon conscience, but a poser for the metropolitan virtue signallers. Those smug and pious Gretists who boasted that Eurostar and TGV was the only acceptable way to get to their Provence gîte are now faced with a dilemna. Load up the disco in the dark of night and go before the neighbours are awake and face the embarrassment three week later, or set off in a visible Uber and jump into a hired disco down the road?

No one trusts flying any more, despite the assurances about the number of air changes and the efficiency of the cabin air filtration system. Too many have come away from a short hop flight with a cold or flu, and the folk appreciation of the risk is widespread.

Comfort for the virtue-signallers is already here. The 'graph has a piece explaining that those driving to the Alps (presumably written in January and held over, as it's about skiing) can still claim to be green if you game the maths a bit -
According to research by Best Foot Forward, a car with four people in it going to Méribel in France’s giant Trois Vallées would generate two-thirds of the emissions than if you had flown to Geneva.
I can suggest a further pabulum for the virtuous - "Jeremy's IBS puts him in the at-risk category, so using any form of public transport is just too risky .." or "we would go by easyjet but Mère Prépuce is 87, and she insists on cleaning the place each day and we can't risk her health". You can think of a thousand others, I expect.

And for carmakers who have almost run out of gadgets, gizmos and apps to attract buyers, here's one. A HEPA++ cabin air filtration system, with the effectiveness of an FFP2 facemask, i.e. filtering out a minimum of 94% of particles down to 0.3 microns. Your car then becomes an item of essential medical equipment .. "We would have bought an EV, but only the Vulva Sauvete P3 has the air filter we need for Tarquin .." 

Monday 15 June 2020

Biden, champion of the tech giants?

1911 was a key year for Standard Oil. It was the year the US courts decided that the company had been misusing its size and market strength to restrict and distort competition, and the company was ordered to be broken up. Hence we got Esso and Mobil instead, joined a few decades later by BP, Shell, Chevron, Gulf Oil and Texaco, the 'Seven Sisters' that dominated the world petroleum market until the 1970s. Which was of greater benefit to the consumer, monopoly or oligopoly? The arguments rumble on.

It's worthwhile looking back at some of those earliest criticisms of Standard. In the UK and in the EU, we're hearing the same noises about the US tech giants, and like the opposition to standard oil, the arguments may appear to be about economics or (today) freedom of speech, but are also very much about human mistrust of large, powerful corporations that are not subject to local or democratic control. And this is where the proffered solutions expose the supranationalists and separate them from the anti-Globalists; if you want Facebook to be subject to UK regulation in the UK, you're likely an anti-Globalist. If you want some sort of over-riding international internet authority to have jurisdiction, you're a dangerous supranationalist.

This is more than just about who regulates your gran's baby pictures on FB. If Biden beats Trump this November, a requirement to accept US hegemony in the form of the tech giants may be a cost attached to a trade deal - remember, socialism is a Globalist construct. For the EU, distaste for the tech giants is also about an endogenous dislike of what they see as transatlantic cultural imperialism. It's been a long time growing; the first time back in the '80s when I watched Die straßen von San Francisco dubbed into German in an Amsterdam hotel room you could see the way things were going. There are simply no home-grown alternatives to Netflix and Amazon Prime anywhere in the EU, and it hurts.

It may be an uncomfortable realisation for both those in the UK and the EU who dislike the power of the tech giants, but their best hope lies in Trump's re-election in November. His recent spat with Twitter brought the revocation of a clause in a 1996 US law - 'Section 230' - into view. If he does so, it would cripple the power of the tech giants - and make many on this side of the Atlantic very happy. And this may just be the only policy aspect upon which Rejoiners and Brexiteers will ever agree.

The government clearly need to refine the 2m rule. Do they really think the British people are too thick to understand a more nuanced approach? Here's my suggestion - feel free to tear holes in it.

Sunday 14 June 2020

A few hundred thugs

I watched closely yesterday the live footage transmitted from the London protests on both You Tube and Periscope, and as I know the areas of the events intimately, had a decent appreciation of the geography of protest. Here's what I saw.

The Cenotaph incursion
The area permitted for the counter-demonstration was Parliament Square and Whitehall up to King Charles St - the street that separates the Treasury and Foreign Office. There was a double row of steel barriers across the road, but the footway on the south side was left open. Those gathered at about 10am were largely the peaceful ex-servicemen and the responsible early risers. The Whitehall barriers were staffed only by two bored police officers in patrol dress engaged in deep conversation. The counter protestors used their initiative in the absence of a police presence and surged over the barriers and up the footway to gather around the Cenotaph. Non violent.

Trafalgar Square
The march from the Dorchester was sparsely attended. BLM-UK had cancelled the official march so those that went straight to Trafalgar Square were unofficial and largely peaceful protesters. I saw animated protest but no violence.

The Thugs arrive
I can only assume the thugs on both sides are late sleepers, or maybe they preferred to get stoned or intoxicated away from the main protest areas, but it was about 1pm before the snide Chinese knock-offs of Hugo Boss leisure wear (oh the multiple ironies) began to be visible at the counter-protest and the hooded Antifa-cadets in Trafalgar Square.

There followed several provocative incidents initiated by the far-right thugs. They assaulted the police on the now-defended King Charles St barrier. A small group tried to invade the BLM protest in Trafalgar Square, and were cornered and beaten. The latter incident was carefully staged and filmed by the racists, who broadcast it on social media tagged as 'innocent' counter protesters going about their lawful business being set upon by black people. It was so transparently an attempt to incite violence as to be laughable.

5 pm
As the 5pm deadline for the end of the protests arrived, the police in Trafalgar square opened up exits to Charing Cross Road and the Strand, and at about 8 minutes past, the entire square emptied peacefully and in good order up the steps to the National Gallery and then towards St Martins.

In Parliament Square, the peaceful counter-protesters and armed forces veterans also left, their stewards litter-picking the area, clearing the bottles and rubbish into bin sacks which were piled for the Council to collect. A hard core of BF/ NF / EDL / BNP far-right racist thugs remained, looking for opportunities for violence. The thug who pissed in the corner adjacent to Keith Palmer's memorial was one such.

This was an affair of the thugs of both sides seeking each other out. The BLM thugs crossed Waterloo Bridge headed for the station, the Britain First thugs Hungerford and Westminster bridges, and there were isolated violent incidents at Waterloo Station.

Patrick Hutchinson - a top bloke in so many ways - rescues a foolish man
Sadiq Khan
The events of the past two weekends, and his statements to the press, have demonstrated beyond doubt that Khan is simply unfit to be Mayor of London. A shifty little narcissist, uninspired, untalented and with an ability only to affect the standard Labour glottal stop that the comrades imagine makes them sound attractive to working people, the people of London deserve so much better. Much more on this as time goes on.

Overall, the day was one of peaceful protest, generally well managed policing with two serious lapses (the unguarded Whitehall barrier in the morning, the chaotic and responsive policing of the limited violent post-protest incidents on the South Bank) and not much to see. It was a victory for public order, and a fail for the few hundred violent thugs from both sides.