Monday, 25 September 2017

Kremlin-Watching Corbyn

source:  Wiki
All the old Kremlin-watching skills - and speculation - will be in play this week, trying to figure out what the McDonnell Machine is going to do next with its potent position in British politics, its momentum, if you like.  There are several puzzles / runes to be read.

  • Brexit - the obvious one - is clearly driving half the Labour Party nuts.  We hear that it's not on the menu for Conference, which on the one hand is quite bizarre but on the other hand maybe shows the machine's smiling insolence.  Yes, we know this one cause cognitive dissonance amongst our hordes of naive supporters.  No, we're not going to be manoeuvred into taking a position on it!  Let the Blairites fume.  Apologists for this tactic of deafening silence are already queueing up: Little Owens Jones can't be far behind. 
  • Why such a quiet summer?   Not for me to put ideas in their heads, but let's simply notice that Grenfell was an issue that could very readily have been stirred up into something Very Ugly Indeed.  Instead, Momentum busied itself in 75 marginal constituencies.  Whenever the Inquiry gets into the news, the meejah finds members of "the Community" who say some very menacing things; so the dry tinder is there, all right.  Is McDonnell playing the long game instead?
  • What does the Long Game look like?  Because 5 years is such a very long time.  As we've noted around here before, even Gordon Brown - in '08 a seemingly nailed-on cert for utter oblivion in 2010 - managed to pull off a no-overall-majority game against Cameron.  Does McDonnell really think all he has to do is sit back and watch the Tory party disintegrate?
It's all a bit early for making conclusions: so we should settle back & watch the fun!

ND

Friday, 22 September 2017

Reception to Florence




The kindness of Strangers' {bar}

http://www.todayonline.com/sites/default/files/styles/photo_gallery_image_lightbox/public/photos/43_images/26406502.JPG?itok=0O7S0wpR

"Hello Prime Minister. Thank you for seeing me. I realise you are very busy. What with the press and the European Union and such. I've just been with the 1922...

They are all fine. Thank you for asking. ...How was the speech received there? Well, it was looked upon very positively....by some...I'm sure...Though they may not have expressed their admiration for walking the tricky Brexit tightrope in so many words.

No, not applause...nothing like that..You know how they are..Very reserved..Unlikely to show  ..erm...emotional expression.

Well...I'm sure you did as you thought best. And I'm sure your support from everyone is just where it was...the day after the election.

Oh I wouldn't say hostile, Prime Minister. That would indicate an undercurrent of anger. There was none of that! Heavens, no. Maybe the odd person asked if you were perhaps standing in front of a white screen or a white flag?
https://spectatorblogs.imgix.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/11/files/2017/09/Screen-Shot-2017-09-22-at-14.28.26.png?auto=compress,enhance,format&crop=faces,entropy,edges&fit=crop&w=820&h=550 
 There were a few voices murmuring about your own, actual delivery of the speech
..In what way?..

Well...I did hear mention of it being delivered a bit in the style of Hirohito.  "Brexit has developed not necessarily to Britain's advantage." That sort of thing..

And one or two suggested perhaps a better venue might have been a 19th century railway wagon.

In the Compi├Ęgne forest.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cd/Waffenstillstand_gr.jpg/220px-Waffenstillstand_gr.jpg

Er...Quite correct PM, that is a military reference...as were the ones about Yorktown and Cornwallis. 2nd Afghan war. Suez '56.
 ...I did hear an amusing one about the Hundred years war..
Someone said that's what you have signed up to..With your 'period of implementation' unconditional offer.

Yes that is another historical reference. A very long conflict. Us and the French. 

Undeniably, they are a bit keen on their history. The 1922. Its kind of in the title. 
You studied geography, if memory serves? A fascinating subject I'm sure..Actually there was a geographic-historic point I overheard. I can't quite remember it all... but Senlac Hill got a mention.  And there were some more modern comparisons. Roy Hodgson. England vs Iceland, for one.

Oh, now Prime Minister. Don't look so downhearted. I'm sure the Europeans will recognise the difficulties you face. The complexities involved. And the chaps weren't out for blood. Really, they were very understanding. And they took it far better than the other day when you said you were going to stay on for ten more years.

They just wished there had been a bit more Churchill at Dunkirk and a bit less Percival at Singapore to it. You know? 
Erm..No PM. I meant nothing to do with temperate climates. Though it was a bit cool..the speech, I mean..Not the ...look...let's just leave the history-geography to one side, shall we?

Now the 1922, asked me to pop along to see you. Just to float an idea. 

As you know, conference is 1st October. And we all want a really rousing one after the erm..the...erm..abatement of our majority in June. 

So, we were considering ways of ensuring you receive a really, really spectacular standing ovation. Something you could have forever as a personal achievement. Something you could say to really make the conference come together. To reunite the party. Something to please both Brexiteers and Remainers.
That would be something to be proud of, wouldn't it, Prime Minister?

Well..I'll tell you..You see we thought, if the EU negotiators respond as we expect them to. To that ...erm..that ...interesting...speech you gave today, then we should have a response of our own.

Of course the choice would be up to you. The party is in no way favouring one option over another.
You could say "ill Health." or, "Spending More Time With Phillip." 

Just so long as you are gon...erm....you announce the decision during the conference. The handover details will all be worked out by then. Stay on as a caretaker until, say, November?  Give us time to sort the vacancy. Quash the civil war.

Pardon, Prime Minister?..  Alas, it was so Prime Minister. Unanimous. 

And you know, this really would be for the best. For you. For the party. For the country!

 Very difficult times. And who really needs all that abuse? All that criticism? You don't really want to read what George Osborne says about you every day, do you? Who needs it? Its a rotten job. 

You try your very best, and what thanks do you get? None at all. 
Just pages and pages in the Guardian about how you don't care about anyone, and the BBC complaining about your trouser suits.

And of course, once you are free from the chains of office, you can make a fortune on the diner circuit. Even old Brown is making as much Wayne Rooney for his self-promoting nonsense. 

And you'd be a Grandee.

Held in utmost regard. Instead of, as now, someone who is thought of as just a ...erm..I mean..higher regard! Held in higher regard as a Grandee. 

Just think, Theresa. No more campaigning. No more debates. No interviews. No fractious cabinet meetings. No more DUP demands. No more EU demands. No more worrying about tomorrows headlines. Not having to mix with people. And, thankfully for us all, no more speeches.

Far, far better to go now. At YOUR choosing. To a tumultuous applause. Not just from the party. But from the nation!
 .......
...
Much better to leave right now. With dignity. With grandeur and decorum.
..
..
..

Rather than with the knives in the back and front that must surely follow..... ...If you choose the other path.
..
..
Its for the best, Mrs May. It really is.
..
..


No..
No need for you to do that.

 I have an approved resignation speech from the committee, right here in my jacket pocket. Its even got a suitable choice of outfit and how long the applause will last. Its scripted beside each paragraph. 

As I said. Much better this way. Much..much better. 

Image result for check out 




















For everyone.


Deep in the Forest, Something Stirs

The Grauniad lets rip with an 'exclusive' today
UK banks to check 70m bank accounts in search for illegal immigrants: from January banks will be enrolled in Theresa May’s plans ... part of Immigration Act 2016 measures to create a hostile environment for illegal migrants.
And why not? - you may say.  What did you imagine?  Joined-up government at last!  Yes, it sounds like more an issue for Graun readers to worry about than C@W: and it will most probably fall on deaf ears, like all these flash-in-the-pan exclusives.

However, it jogged a recent memory of something also very much data-trawl related.  I recently learned that Ofgem plans a major exercise in "data-matching" to assist with establishing the eligibilty of people for various schemes related to fuel poverty and energy efficiency measures, involving Ofgem getting automated access to everyone's tax and benefits information.  This is all possible, apparently, under the Digital Economy Act 2017 - which was rushed through in April of this year just before Parliament dissolved for the Election.   "... to make provision about data-sharing ... and for connected purposes".

You may well be straight back into Why Not? / What Did You Imagine? / Joined-up Government mode again.  Call me naive if you wish.  But I don't think you need to be an outright libertarian to wonder what's going on here.  "A number of expert witnesses to the Digital Economy Bill Committee expressed concerns about the bill", says wiki - them, plus the usual suspects: the 'Open Rights Group', 'Big Brother Watch' et al.  

The fact that they're the perennial awkward squad doesn't always mean they are wrong.  With the two stories above in mind, someone who has a bit of spare time might want to have a look at the detail of that Act again with a sceptical eye.  We know local authorities use anti-terror legislation to hunt down people suspected of mis-using wheelie-bins etc etc.  Do any of us trust Mrs May's instincts?  

Or Mr McDonnell's?

ND

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Logical failures when discussing the weather

Watching the terrible Hurricane season in the Caribbean has not been a lot of fun. Lovely island cities and cultures face ruin and the support is both hard to send and it needs to be plentiful. I wrote a piece last week showing how heartless some are and I read this week too that apparently these countries are too rich for aid.


What exactly is the logic in that?


I earn money and become rich, I buy a house, I invest all my money in it, the house is destroyed and I have no insurance. My money was the house, ergo I am no longer rich.


The logic of saying you are too rich to help clearly can't apply when a country is destroyed. Has no one recalled the Marshall Plan or the Berlin airlift? Bureaucracies are stupid, another reason to have less involvement with grandiose international institutions.


Then, following on from yesterday's post, I have spoken to quite a few people keen to opine that the Hurricane season this year is worse due to climate change. That as maybe, however their evidence is that this is a once-in-a-hundred-year event. Which, by definition means that it happened around a hundred years ago, before climate change. Where is the logic in their arguments? It would only make sense if this was the worst weather event ever or if it was now more frequent that in the past - that would be logic (and, neither of those statements it true as yet).


Who else has good current examples?

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Monbiot Tells Truth Again Shock

I have always regarded the Moonbat with benevolent tolerance.  He's as mad as a cut snake and his knee-jerk reactions are all wrong but - and it's a Big But - he is an honest empiricist at heart, and when he stubs his toe on the Truth, with much wailing, gnashing of teeth, sack-cloth and ashes, he acknowledges it.  

Nice to see him catch up on yet another Fact of Life, which is that Germany is no sort of paragon when it comes to 'green' policies / sustainability etc etc.  The Energiewende is a nonsense, of course (how did it take you so long, George?) and Germany's CO2 emissions have been gently rising - in marked contrast to those wicked neoliberal despotisms, the US and the UK.  But, yes, Germany has faithfully been following the usual policy of GDP trumps GHG - albeit at the same time as pandering expensively to the greens.

And so George has summoned up his courage and written about it (in the Graun - check out some of the BTL comments).  He's personalised it, of course, holding Merkel to blame for the whole thing.  

The truly personal aspect is George's own private odyssey, bouncing from pillar to post as he wishes the world were other than it truly is.  This latest piece of breast-beating is just one in a long series: (a treasured memory is the one he wrote when, trying to live a self-sufficient eco-life in Wales, his vegetable crop failed and he suddenly realised we do actually need to do things on an industrial scale).  Poor, disillusioned George.

But, hey, he's an honest man; and there is more rejoicing in Heaven ...

ND

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The strange world of Brexit continues to evolve.





Even after 14 months now, the political world of Brexit I find a very odd place.


Here in the UK we have a Cabinet busy arguing over what type of Brexit they want. On the other side of the channel, there is an agreed position that either Britain pay £100-odd billion and retain open borders (via Ireland) and indeed EU citizenship for everyone or else it is a hard Brexit.


Given the European demands, hard Brexit it is. No one in the country, bar the noisiest remainers, really wants to engage in the EU terms offered.


And yet the papers are full of cabinet splits and tittle-tattle, when really preparing for a WTO world and avoiding various cliff-edge issues like flight paths is really what the focus should be on.


Indeed, this would have been the best way to send a message to the EU that it needed to bargain. Instead we have the EU merrily laughing at the UK as the politicians and media lay into one another day after day. Michel Barnier must feel like Lewis Hamilton did on Sunday after all his rivals crashed into one another and out of the race after 30 seconds.


Nonetheless Teresa May is going to have her speech on Friday, no one yet knows the full content, but it appears to be another attempt to try and find away around the EU red lines, which the EU have shown absolutely zero sign of wanting to change.


Still, popcorn viewing, of sorts.