Friday, 19 January 2018

Chilling Developments in China ...

... in more ways than one.

Firstly, the literal chill that has set in since the new "Xi Jinping Thought" was rolled out, including making China "beautiful" and, errr, less lethal to anyone depending on breathing for their existence.  This of course means switching off coal-fired power stations - not for reasons of CO2 emissions, about which they care little or perhaps nothing, but for reasons of outright air pollution.

I know exactly what you're thinking
Well of course this means people now freeze: and industry periodically suffers power shortages, too.   It also means the coal switch-off is more of an "on-off" and is being reversed whenever things get too bad (for industry, that is: people can put on another blanket) - which BTW is playing havoc in the coal and gas markets.  GDP trumps not only GHG, but pollution as well.

Yes, unless you are the USA or the UK with plenty of gas-fired capacity, phasing out coal is pretty damn' difficult, as Germany illustrates all too clearly.

But we know all this.  Back to China: what's more interesting to me is that "Freeze" article linked to above, from Greenpeace.  It makes extensive use of complaints aired on Chinese social media, which have evidently dodged the Great Firewall.

But for how long?  Read here and here about how China intends to institute a comprehensive monitoring / ranking / stick-and-carrot-consequences system controlling its citizens' every thought and action, very much based on the ubiquity of social meejah.  How many "Social Credit System" brownie-points will be deducted when you post about how the heating won't work?

The first of those two pieces is a definite must-read for the weekend.  Lots of politicians much closer to home than Beijing will be following Chinese Social Credit developments with *interest*.  Chilling?  Oh yes, very chilling indeed.


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Political Betting seem to be forgetting something. 

Political Betting has very reliable data. And usually, very reliable, if liberal democrat interpretations, of that data.

Two posts today on the ICM poll that puts Labour 1% ahead of the Tories.

2nd is : Only problem Paul (Mason) is that Corbyn’s LAB needs 7-10% vote lead to win majority. We are miles away from seeing the required LAB vote breakthrough. 
Mike Smithson.

The stories are that Labour need a lot more votes than Tories these days to get a majority. A reverse of the last 20 years. Mainly due to the Tories losing big vote share seats in 2017 and taking easier to win Lib Dem seats in 2015. 
And so Labour need to be 7-10% ahead of the Tories to have a majority.

I do not believe that to be true.
here, from PB also, is the 40/41% as seats. 

The Tories lose 29 seats.
Labour gain 26.
The magic MAJORITY number is still 326. 
Labour are 38 short.

So the PBers are correct. 
Labour do not have a majority.

But those figures will have Corbyn in Number 10.

 The SNP will be offered far more than the DUP. They will be offered everything they could ever dream of. Including independence referendums. Nationalised shipbuilders. Green energy contracts for farts in the wind. Everything will be on the table. And damn the expense. The IMF is going to be picking up the eventual tab anyway. So they can splurge away on magic money.
Same for Plaid. Same for Green. Who won't even need convincing and would be in Corbyn's bed without the cash.

That's the Progressive-Socialist-Alliance-Workers-Party right there. 329
Lib/Tory/DUP would be a Maximum of 321. And it won't be that. Because the 18 N.I are 
10 DUP. 
6 Sinn Fein.
 2 Independent. 

And a Corbyn party could happily, even longingly, grant an Independence referendum for Northern Ireland. Or even ALL Ireland. To get the Sinn Fein six to sit in the HOC. Just until Ireland is reunited?
And offering the Speaker a job for life? That's another possible vote if needed. History and tradition will have no place in Year Zero politics. Threats, Tolkach and Blat will be the new power. "Accept the New Reality, Comrade Berkovich. Enjoy the fruits of your labours. Comrade General Secretary Corbyn rewards his loyal people. Or else..He can always get another Speaker. Make your choice."
And so that is more than enough for a majority. 

And Old Corbyn hasn't even had to offer the ever persuadable Lib Dems anything yet. Their extremely useful 14 votes wouldn't be hard to buy. Confidence and supply to ease their fears of another national humiliation. And another AV referendum? Government funding of political parties? Abolition of the House of Lords? Nuclear Disarmament? 
A promise for a rejoin the EU referendum. All things Labour were probably thinking of doing anyway. But if they can secure the Liberals, then ..well..why not pretend it was all the Libs idea? Let a thousand flowers bloom in the collective consciousness of new and radical thinking. And a couple of Liberals in the Politburo won't make any difference to Corbyn.

So Paul Mason is probably right.
And Political betting are probably wrong.

 Its STILL the TORIES who need to be 7-10% ahead to form a government.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

House-training the Labour Party for the 21st Century

The great genius of British society since the demise of Queen Mary 1 has been its ability to tolerate, absorb and generally house-train groups and factions that were ostensibly locked in life-or-death opposition to the establishment - without undue violence.  Since death and destruction in these islands didn't stop in 1558, obviously it isn't difficult to adduce some counter-examples (Civil War and Jacobites heading the list) but I'll stick with my generalisation and point to the significantly greater bloodshed in most other European countries after the mid 16th century.

We'll consider some recent examples later; but first let's briefly consider the reign of Good Queen Bess.  Unlike her sister, who set out to exterminate Protestantism by burning 'heretics' in their hundreds, Elizabeth sought no window into mens' souls and only had Catholics pursued to their deaths if they were actively out to kill her, that is, on account of treason and not religion - a very important distinction.  The Catholic question concerned the obvious civil criminality of seeking the Queen's assassination under a mandate from Rome.   Doctrinally the Church of England was more troubled by puritanism.

In the 19th century, Catholics were re-admitted to the body politic with no particularly baleful consequences that that can be identified today.  Perhaps even more remarkably, one hundred years later the would-be Marxists - including some out-and-out revolutionaries - of the first Parliamentary Labour Party were house-trained (indeed, House-trained) to the point when in 1929 Margaret Bondfield (a relative of mine and one-time firebrand union militant) was mostly concerned about whether or not she should wear a hat when she went to accept her office as Britain's first woman Cabinet minister from the King.  (Her instinct was that she should: but in discussion with the Cabinet Secretary they decided it might get in the way when she knelt to kiss His Majesty's hands ...)

Which brings us to the challenges of the hour, notably militant Islam, and revolutionary Corbyn/McDonnellism.  Defusing the obvious nightmare scenarios in the British Way is a work in progress, and the outcome(s) may fairly be in doubt.  But, not for the first time, I offer you Sadiq Khan as a significant phenomenon - possibly on both counts.

What's he been up to lately?  Here are two interesting straws in the wind.  Firstly, and in the headlines just now, he has responded to the London New Year knifings by announcing a "significant increase" in stop-and-search.  In so doing he is trampling on a lot of left-Labour sensibilities, not to mention going back (again) on a campaign promise.  David Lammy doesn't like this at all, and he won't be alone.  It all confirms Khan as a kneejerk politician in the (in)glorious British tradition.

But there's more, albeit not headlining in quite the same way. 
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Pubs across the capital are often at the heart of our communities or of historic value and should be protected by local authorities in order to protect the capital’s unique character. From historic watering holes to new pop-up breweries, nothing defines the diverse and historic character of the capital better than the Great British Pub. That’s why I’ve set out measures in my draft London Plan to protect pubs against redevelopment, ensure they can co-exist peacefully with nearby residential properties and ensure that councils across the capital recognise their importance to the city’s cultural fabric” ... Sadiq Khan committed to working together with the Campaign for Real Ale ...   (City Hall Press Release)
I put it to you that he didn't need to say all this.  Not every London announcement carries a direct Mayoral quote: he has plenty of deputy mayors to front for initiatives if he doesn't wish to put his personal fingerprints on them. Nope: he's making a point here, and not one that will go down well in every religious quarter.  

The great British genius for sweeping everyone along is still at work.  There is of course, a lot of Momentum moving in a nasty direction.  But who knows: maybe that tide will be turned as well by the time Corbyn kneels to kiss hands.  Continuity Rules ...


Monday, 15 January 2018

Carillion goes under - first reactions

There is plenty elsewhere on the not-so-swift demise of this huge UK corporate that the Government trusted with some very large infrastructure projects.

- The Government awarded them contracts last year because, according to the Govt advisers, not to do so would have sent them under sooner. HELLO!! Does anyone speak capitalism - if a comnpany is rocky, giving them more business creates a bigger hole for you down the road when it collapses. They are called profits warnings for a reason.

- Much criticism there is of outsourcing, but actually I wonder the role here of Government pushing for too harder a bargain and crazy contractors signing up in the belief that somehow they can deliver to the budgets. They can't and instead we have this. There is a lot of this in the building sector at the moment, Mace has seen profits turned into losses, Lang O'Rourke managed to lose £141 million last year. These are private sector companies doing private deals, but the market has really turned against them. Companies and Government want cheap builds and the greedy company directors are either not walking away or are too afraid of foreign competition.

- Brexit does have impacts, falling investment has reduced the number of projects in the UK, with more competition for those that are left on the table (some big ones like Crossrail are ending).

- The Construction industry is a lot less healthy than the markets think, even house building is coming off what have been an amazing run - inflation costs and a slowing housing market are taking the margins right off the sell prices and the land banks were all acquired at market peaks of late.

- Finally, the siren labour call will be for this kind of work to be done direct by the Government, I really don't see how that helps with the price controls or quality control for the government. It will only stop the projects failing, because, umm, the Government can throw more money at it. So trying to move this work into the public sector will simply create a big moral hazard problem.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

It's OK to Love Nigel Farage?

Do you get why?

You see, today, Mr Farage has pulled a complete blinder. Sat around for months on end he has witnessed the remain-led London media-political complex world banging on and on about a second referendum.

Also, defining leave voters as evil, thick, ignorant racists (well, that is the before the watershed version). Hating the world and wishing they could wind the clock back to happier, Cameron-Blair times. Listening to endless Alibhai Brown on screech-repeat.

But also, rather awkwardly in retrospect, declaring Nigel Farage as the devil incarnate and Nazi etc. etc.

And his response; to agree with them. We should have a second referendum.

Of Course!

Now the dilemma, to agree with ignorant, thick, devil incarnate Nazi or to oppose him. To stand  against everything he is as any true Hate not Hope believer simply has to do.

Which today, now means, argue against a 2nd referendum. Worse, once you consider for about, oh say 9 seconds, what on earth the question on the ballot would actually be given where we realise this is a terrible idea and complete non-starter. Pity to have been pushing it so hard for 18 months then - but can you be seen to agree with Farage?

No, now the only righteous choice is to continue disagreeing with Nigel and declare there is no necessity or capability to hold a second referendum. Mrs May can lead us best to the hoped for remain holy land of leaving the EU in name only.

So, for all his many faults, Mr Farage remains quite capable of showing up time after time how thick and ignorant the metropolitan remain cheerleaders really are.