Thursday 27 July 2017

Gove is Causing Mayhem: A Pointer

Well alright, au fond it's May's weakness that is causing mayhem - but the form it seems to be taking just now is Gove's increasingly reckless leadership manoeuvres.

First, we are plausibly told, Murdoch required that May take Gove back on board.  A conspiracy theory, I realise, but hard to disbelieve.  With his Murdoch-mandate for a putsch in his back pocket, how is he to make progress, when it has been generally agreed between the circling barons and their factions that Now Is Not The Time?  Answer: to stake out noisily the old pre-2010 Cameroonian position.  Brand-detoxification + husky-hugging.

His pretext?  In the present state of cabinet anarchy he barely needs one.  But he was handed one on a plate when (as we are told**) May's new chief-of-staff Gavin Barwell instructed cabinet members to come up with policy initiatives that don't cost any money (not itself a bad idea, as Mr Quango has pointed out).  Sajid Javid - another wannabe who's keen to be in the news - rushed in with his house-lease intervention. 
But Gove has outshone everyone with two crass, would-be populist performances in as many days.  Yesterday - in a move that must have been, ooh, at least a week or so in the hatching - he came up with the banning of new internal combustion engines by 2040 - the French wheeze.  Did he think that'll cost nothing for a year or two?  Only if the greens and red-greens stupidly let it lie quietly where it fell: but that's not what happened on Day 1, when the universal cries were: 'too little, too late', 'it's the air pollution Right Now, stupid', and 'watchergonnadoaboudit?'  As well as opportunistic secondary themes such as - 'don't just dump it on the local authorities'.

(And all this was before the 1 O'Clock News, which tells us the opposition is thinking quickly on its feet, even during the silly season.  And, of course, they have the BBC firmly in tow.  These are dangerous political times for Tories.)

But the day before that, Gove himself did some 'quick thinking on his feet' - and came out against chlorinated chicken!  Talk about swallowing the enemy's agenda.  The Remainders must have been overjoyed: their tactic for undermining a US-UK trade deal by guessing what'll be in it and demanding pre-emptive red lines has paid off on its first outing - and there's plenty more where that came from.  GM food will be next, mark my words.  And of course 'anything produced using gas that was fracked '.  (Oh, and the 'chicken' thing deflected attention from Corbyn's woes over repaying student grants).  Well Done, Michael.

We'll come back to electric cars another day: it's a technical issue as intractable as the electrification of trains and space-heating we considered at the weekend.  In the meantime, let me leave you with one other point to watch out for.   Gove and Barwell are best buddies.  You heard it here first.


** I have looked for this story, which was in the papers or on the news recently, but can't find the link.  Sorry.
Cartoon: Stephen Collins (detail)


Bill Quango MP said...

On top of the electric cars, comes the tax rises for diesels. Followed by petrol engines in the future. As revealed in the Telegraph today.
{Speculated really. But they are not wrong.}

Its a bonus for newspapers for the summer season. Everything from 'Electric car tax to rise 2000% to cover loss of gov'mnt revenues' to 'China and Russia will control all our energy with lithium' to 10,000 ancillary jobs to go in the alternator, fuel pump, furl gauge industries.
A gift for editors looking to frighten tourists off their sun loungers to buy a paper.

Elby the Beserk said...

As the DT pointed out yesterday, the electric car decision will cost a fortune. The grid capacity will need increasing by 50%, and as we all know, as renewable increase in usage, so does the efficiency of the grid go down. Talk to the Germans, they'll tell you all about it.

Nonsense on stilts. I'm truly getting to the point where I will not read newspapers or listen to the radio (bar sport and music), for my own well-being. E.G.Nick Robinson's obsession with Trump is giving me homicidal urges. The BBC's inability to suggest that anything good may come out of Brexit another. The palpable glee on Today whenever a sniff of problems appears is beyond a joke.

Anonymous said...

Stick to Radio 3 (and Radio 2 at 9pm on Sundays). Avoid all current affairs and news.

As for broadcast TV, I can't comment as I haven't watched it for at least 15 years. There is plenty of good stuff on YouTube. For instance:

Don Cox

Dick the Prick said...

@Elby - if you think Nick Robinson is infatuated with Trump, you do well to stay away from NN or the truly risible 100 Days + they air on BBC4 on an evening.

Let's not forget Justine Greening's pick your own gender cost-free announcement too!

As per Gove, he must be setting himself up as a stalking horse but for whom? It's all very well trying to de-toxify a brand but if we end up with just a random set of policy pronouncements based on evidence-free assertion then, without wanting to be hyperbolic, it totally eliminates the whole point of voting.

Nick Drew said...

Gove, he must be setting himself up as a stalking horse but for whom?

Interesting thesis, Dick - I must say the only thing occurring to me was Gove = Murdoch's Man for the Top Job

I didn't see him as John the Baptist

Your thinking?

Dick the Prick said...

@ND - I think Gove's an opportunist and snake in the grass but he's not stupid so presumably he's aware that it would need a perfect storm to get him into Number 10 - which, with Murdoch's help, could certainly happen but you'd think Leadsom was clean (maybe dodgy accounting)and Javid's probably never even ran through a field of wheat.

I don't know - merely speculation:

1) Wrecking ball - destroy May
2) Stalking horse
3) Top job
4) Looking for some serious cash after office.

Anonymous said...

Gove is bright but foolish, good minister but would be dreadful PM (just like the last four, but he hasn't got Blair and Cameron's snake oil salesman touch).

I wish these buggers would clam up.

OT but I loved this comment alsewhere - Dunkirk updated.

"Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the right and all the odious apparatus of nationalist rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall welcome the refugees in France, we shall welcome them on the seas and on the oceans, we shall welcome them with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall open our island, whatever the cost may be.

We shall welcome them on the beaches, we shall welcome them on the landing grounds, we shall welcome them in the fields and in the streets, we shall welcome them in the hills; we shall always surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were defended or prospering, then others beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the U.S. fleet, would carry on the struggle, until in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to compel the capitulation and inundation of the old."

Anonymous said...

Ominous in the Telagraph - Jonathan Portes, the architect of Blair's "rubbing the noses in diversity" strategy, praises Amber Rudd's "post-Brexit workforce review". Not a good sign and Rudd is a remainer par excellence. Still, getting out is #1 priority, as long as trade deals aren't tied to immigration deals.

You'd think they'd learn, but some don't have our interests at heart. "Cheap labour" has turned out remarkably expensive in blood and treasure over the last 70 years.

Anonymous said...

The electric car thing was a bit of a WTF moment. There are a whole raft of infrastructure, taxation and practical hurdles involved with that. Enough that I suspect it'll get binned long before 2040.

I'm pretty sure technology will have brought ranges up and prices down by then, and the policy is for new cars, so I imagine the second hand market would see a bloom for sometime whilst the car market dropped somewhat. Unintended consequences and all that.

We do need to improve air quality, but I'm unsure if political hot air will do the job.

As for Gove... He may be clever, but he's just so unlikeable, and his genes have gifted him a face for radio and a voice for silent movies. Not exactly leadership material in the modern era.

Electro-Kevin said...

Fuck sakes.

A true, FREE, Tory would have told the BBC to go fuck itself take it out on the owner of grubby Kilburn Kebab shop selling halal chicken to unwitting UK customers.

Yeah. That's OK. Full support from the Left. But chlorinated produce from the most health conscious and litigious society on earth gets the BBC's ire.

Why didn't he take this line ?

Because he can't !

Electro-Kevin said...

I'd like to see Rees Mogg as PM (turkey voting for Christmas in my job btw) as I think he'd be best for the country but wifey says "No. He looks like a twat."

Gnnnn. Unfair - but she has a point.

And that's the level of UK politics, I'm afraid. First and foremost you mustn't look a twat.

We are getting the full Lefty agenda from the Conservatives, aren't we !

rwendland said...

EtB> The grid capacity will need increasing by 50%

Not if some mechanism, pricing possibly, is used to stop car recharging generally taking place 7am-10am and 4pm-7pm Monday to Friday. Outside these hours the grid runs significantly below capacity. In fact done well with smart technology, battery recharging could even out demand across the 24 hours, generally increasing generation efficiency and capital utilisation.

One longer term problem with electric cars though is coping with the reduction in the tax take. Road fuel duty is high, but leccy only gets 8% VAT. That's the hidden subsidy at the mo.

Charlie said...

rwendland, please don't fall into the standard leftie trap of thinking that not taxing something as highly as something else amounts to a subsidy of the former.

Dick the Prick said...

Just thinking on - why did he say 'ban'? Instead of diminish, phase - out, reduce, disincentivize, attempt to make obsolete?

It's provocative hectoring with menaces for a perfectly sound industry that has done bloody good work for this country. One could argue that not for failed government intervention we may still have had a perfectly sound innovative base rather than the international assembly line that we currently have. The Nissan assurances are coming back to bite as Nissan apparently know more than anyone else does.

Nah, after a couple of beers i've come to the conclusion that Gove is potentially an unmitigated bansturbator - screw that. I joined the Tories in 2007 to get away from this shit. What about Morgan cars, TVR, David Brown tractors near me (they're all foreign owned but they're damn good engineers). It's fucking imbecilic.

Dick the Prick said...

Have you noticed that as consumers through government policy - everything requires an upfront payment? Everything. Instead of incremental improvement it's always a new shiny, shiny thing.

I used to work at the NHS IT branch. Fuck me sideways and call me Marjorie but we used to joke about slipping a couple of Aston Martin's into the bid and holiday home for Dave's mum.

Why does government spunk so much money to both foreign investors and also to bullshit objectives? They've spent the best part of £4bn on electronic prescriptions - happy days - except it's no better than a telephone and an excel spreadsheet. The audit of pharmacies that hadn't got a fucking clue how much they were owed was perhaps only exceeded by those taking the piss. Plus, by a lack of user testing of design, pensioners can't ring up anymore.

It's repeated all round government. I know government is huge and you have to pick your battles but i've always thought that doing nothing was the best way to do politics - it's the last scene in the Godfather where the Don tells Michael that the first one to come to you is your enemy. Government doesn't need to innovate - it needs to get better at what it should be doing and new things shouldn't be randomly tested with tax payers cash. It's piss poor politics let alone economics.

Gove should be ashamed of himself.

formertory said...


Gove should be ashamed of himself.

Amen to that. Not an easy man to warm to, but (I always thought) a clever man. Possibly getting close to the ideal of a reasonably honest politician. These utterances in the past few days, though, are ridiculous; either I was right before and he's a clever man (in which case WTF is the game he's playing?) or actually I was wrong and he's a knob-headed fuckwit.

I despair.

Nick Drew said...

he's playing Murdoch's game!

rwendland said...

Charlie, I concede that calling a large disparity in tax treatment a subsidy is a bit flippant - though this is a blog so some shorthand is the norm.

But Fuel Duty does raise £28 billion, and 20% VAT on fuel dropping to 8% on leccy will be a few more billion of tax lost. Maybe £31 billion lower in tax take, or around 5% of government revenues, eventually when leccy vehicles are near universal. Such an amount lost will have to be recovered in other increased taxation.

Anonymous said...

Having thrown the last election I reckon they definitely want to lose the next one.

E-K said...

Electric cars are not for ordinary folk. This is about turning us into China with only bicycles and bowls of rice

Anonymous said...

@EK - it's 23 years down the line.

23 years ago my PC ran around 5% of the speed of my current machine and had 1% of the memory and cost the same, despite that PC 23 years back being a 'cheap' Time model and my current being a 2010 iMac.

30 years ago washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwasher were not for ordinary folk.

40 years ago holidays to the US were not for ordinary folk.

50 years ago cars were barely for ordinary folk.

100 years ago trains were only just becoming for the ordinary folk as they escaped for the wakes.

Technology isn't static and neither is the cost of that technology. I'll be surprised if, by 2025, electric cars aren't cheaper than their internal combustion equivalents today.

Infrastructure will be a different thing, but I wouldn't be shocked if petrol stations weren't updated to provide fast charge points. Mobile phones took ages to charge a decade ago, now you can get 50% charge in under 30 minutes. And Musk has already got battery swapping technology, so you wouldn't charge, you'd swap batteries - an almost empty one for a fully charged one and go on your way in around the same amount of time it took to fill up - so that's another option.

As I said up thread, I wouldn't be surprised if this got kicked into the long grass when the complexities started scaring the government, but equally the market is working on making electric cars and I have slightly more faith in that than government edict.

Elby the Beserk said...


Quite. We haven't had a TV for years - anything I may want to watch I can usually find on the interweb. Radiowise, occasionally R3, tho' that is horribly dumbed down these days, else sport on R5 and it's sister channel. I'll occasionally pop Today on for the sport or weather, and will admit to hanging on when the ghastly Nick Robinson is on one.

Witness, early last week, a piece on how Trump was now not only deporting illegal immigrants with crime records, but those without. I emailed them - no response, oddly - to ask them if they

a) knew what "illegal" means
b) wondering why the leader of a country upholding its laws was "news"
c) why the leader of a country fulfilling an election promise was "news"
d) and noting that Obama promised to do exactly what Trump has done, in 2005, to no disapprobation from the BBC. Rather, his every utterance pointed towards a later canonisation.

As noted, I got no reply.

E-K said...

Elby - China Girl on BBC last night was the usual feminist police drama claptrap. I have to sit next to wifey whilst she watches stuff I cannot abide seeing. So. I've bought myself an electronics lab that I can fiddle with beside her. First I'm making a jammer but don't tell her. I'm keeping it a surprise.

E-K said...

Anon 10.20

Thanks. Good point.

Charlie said...

Anon - Moore's law unfortunately does not apply to battery technology, so I would not base your expectations on the rate of advance of electric car technology on the rate of advance we've seen in silicon.

Anonymous said...

@Charlie - Moore's law is only one of a variety of mechanisms that has brought prices down.

It's certainly influenced the cost reductions in the likes of dishwasher and washing machines as it's allowed better production and features, but is far from the whole story.

As for battery tech, if Musk can nail the automated battery swap technology it stops being a consideration. You pull into a station, 10 minutes later you're back on the road with full charge whilst your previous battery is getting charged for a future customer.

I actually find that preferable than keep trying to increase the energy density of lithium batteries, mainly as we do much more and you've got something with a bigger capacity to go boom than a petrol or diesel engine.

Elby the Beserk said...

E-K Even better if your jammer can knock out your neighbours' TVs as well. What a kerfuffle :-)

Electro-Kevin said...

And no-one would know, Elby. What fun.

Charlie - I've heard graphene is going to make good batteries.