Thursday 27 June 2019

May's Legacy: As We Were saying

As you may recall, I consider the worst feature of May's baleful legacy to be that by failing to crush the morale of the bedsit left in the 2017 GE, she has encouraged every leftist idiot out of their decade-long despondency to give vent to their wildest fanatsies - which they have every intention of having Corbyn enact.  And in the bidding war before the next GE, who knows what he'll promise?

Exhibit A: - and I'm going Daily Mail on you now - here's the operative part of a motion passed on Monday at the AGM of the British Medical Association.
This meeting calls for the policy of charging migrants for NHS care to be abandoned and for the NHS to be free for all at the point of delivery
And they do mean 'all'.

See what I mean?

And the thing is, stuff like that can actually be delivered.  It's the complex financial stuff they'd find they can't do.  And then they'd turn to the gesture politics.  It's cheap (in the short run), it's stroke-of-a-pen stuff.  And they'd really enjoy doing it.


Tuesday 25 June 2019

The next chancellor.

Related image

The Brown and Blair 'Pact of Spiel' led to an unusual event. British Chancellors became permanent. For the entire length of the Premiership.

Brown had so much power, and knew of so many buried bodies, he ran the UK economy, solely to suit himself. Without bothering to inform the Prime Minister about what he was up to.

In turn, his own Chancellor, Darling, refused to do what he was told. And due to Brown's ever decaying power, he quickly became immovable.

Cameron's chum Osborne also had a very large hand in running the economy. Though that was due more to Cameron's indifference to what his financial wizard was up to. Osborne served the full term.

Hammond was May's 'safe pair of hands.' As all the others before him had been.
And he too, quickly decided to do his own thing. He refused to allow Brexit without a customs union or a hugely long , never ending transition. And May's power and authority disappeared even faster than Brown's had. Hammond will outlast May.

Assuming the lead candidate succeeds in his leadership bid. And assuming the Remain Tories don't fulfil their promise to immediately bring down their own government, Johnson will need a Chancellor.

Who could that be?

The steady, grey, dull, semi-competent, serious, and intelligent Hunt could have been first choice.
If there hadn't already been an Eeyore in charge for the last three years.

Who else?

Gove should have been an outside chance. A fickle Releaver. One who can pretend to be either for or against Brexit, with some conviction. But whoever gave Little Finger money and power, and survived to regret it?

What about Fox? International trade is a bit like national finance, isn't it? But, of course, everything that goes for the untrustworthy Gove, goes double for the Fox.

Liz Truss is already in the Treasury. A woman chancellor would be excellent politics. Partly neutralising the misogynist Johnson labels.  If only she hadn't been a staunch Remainer in 2016.

Another alternative to make the media yap a way on nothing at all, would be to appoint an ethnic chancellor. Javid? Another Releaver. Johnson might be tempted to just leave him where he is. After all, there is always some disaster at the Home Office about to splash onto the papers. Handy to have an ex-rival in place ready to take the fall.

Or Kwarteng. Kwarsi was a leaver. Has very dry, Tory values. Ticks the minority box, even better than Javid does. Though he has been Secretary to Hammond. So might be sympathetic to the doomsayers at the Treasury.Though on the plus side, he is a Minister in the Brexit department.
He does seem to be the one..Oh wait? Didn't he constantly say to sign the May agreement of the Damned? Blast him!

The media will be being fed the Eu's choice, for Florence of Arabia. Rory the unTory as Chancellor. I suspect even Grayling has more chance of getting the post than him.



Or someone else entirely?

As we have seen, the Treasury is usually used for the most loyal, or most treacherous ally. To appease a big beast, so they support the PM through shared vision, or are sufficiently mollified to push that beast's own followers into line, so securing the government's stability and ending the civil war.

Who would you choose?

If not Boris, who?

It seems many of the people Boris Johnson has come across in this life now have it in for him. I guess that is where obvious and naked ambition gets you.

The list of haters is long, the BBC, the Labour Party, the EU, his ex-bosses, his girlfriend’s neighbours.

All of whom do not think much of him. Maybe if the hate is kept up it may get Jeremy Hunt to be Prime Minister.

But this is just the warm-up. There are only two outcomes of the path we are on.

One is a Jeremy Corbyn government where the hate spews from the Government too as well as the media.

The second is a Farage Government. Can you imagine the BBC and Guardian in that case. It will make this Boris hate festival look like a minor tiff with ones girlfriend.....

Friday 21 June 2019

Unsettling AI, Right Here & Now

I'm sure we are all fully seized with the potential of AI and related developments, positive & negative, and have all read what internet uses the Chinese intend for it.  Much of it seems a little way in the future.  But here's a first-hand tale from this week.

I belong to a UK-based organisation that has a branch in the US.  I correspond by email very frequently with the UK Hon Secretary, we'll call him Martin; and only occasionally (maybe once a quarter) with the US Hon Sec whose name, coincidentally, is also Martin.  Recently I was told, verbally only and as a piece of breaking news not generally disclosed anywhere, that Martin (US) proposed to float an idea for a new type of activity involving his US members - and (before he told anyone else) what did we think of it?  

Having slept on the idea (but not communicated it further) I emailed the person who'd relayed it to me that I thought it was a good one.  I referenced 'US members' but no names.  I then hit the cc button to Martin (UK), something I'd done a thousand times before, because he'd been party to the original verbal discussion.

My email system immediately flashed up: "Did you mean Martin (US)?"

FFS !  If its algo was (as one might expect) based on past behaviours by volume, and indeed context at a basic level (i.e. comms within the organisation in question), the simple probabilities were very heavily stacked in favour of my intending it to be Martin (UK), as I'd actually intended and clicked.  But presumably it had "seen" a reference to US members, and "knew" Martin (US) was associated with US members; or "seen" an email on the same subject between Martin (US) and my addressee ...   This is clever and useful, but ... well.

I recall the first time when I was "asked" whether I meant to append an attachment when I'd mentioned such a thing in the text, but hadn't appended anything before hitting Send.  That seemed quite clever at the time.  Things seemed to have moved on a bit ... 

And this is all real-time stuff with (obviously) no human intervention whatsoever.  Cunning bastards.  God alone knows what the real bastards (China, FB, ...) are doing with this stuff.

Any stories you'd care to share-and-scare?


Tuesday 18 June 2019

UK really can grow Unicorns

Following on from Andrew's comments yesterday, a piece from The Times:

Britain is creating more $1 billion technology companies than any other country apart from the United States and China, a study has found.
Over the past two decades UK-based entrepreneurs have built 72 companies, including 13 in the past year, that have topped the ten-figure threshold — known as “unicorns” in the tech industry.
That compares with 29 in Germany, Britain’s closest European rival, and India with 26. Over that period, the US and China have created 703 and 206 respectively, according to research for the government’s digital economy council published today.
Investors have poured about $5 billion into British tech start-ups since January, reinforcing the country’s status as Europe’s leading high-tech nation, the research said. More than a third of Europe’s fastest-growing tech companies…

For once, we are getting it right - far more by luck than judgement. The UK is doing very well with tech start-up's. There was a time at the start of Brexit when it looked like Amsterdam and Berlin would clean-up (Paris as ever talks a good game but really...let alone now in Gillets Jaunes land).

But no, the UK and London have powered on. Powered by a few key things, as ever hard to emulate. One is the ease of working in the UK compared to the rest of the EU. Another is the ability to keep your money when you sell through generous EIS schemes, another is the ease of language and living in the UK and London, also that our economy is post-industrial and this suits the new tech start-ups. Finally and the killer is the ease of access to Finance. Only Silicon Valley, New York and London can cope with global Venture Capital needs. As such, the flow to the EU stopped and reversed.

Now we have a nascent industry in Fintech, Legaltech, Martech - you name it the UK is developing it in the professional services space but also healthcare. Brexit will have zero impact on this and luckily the Government is too pre-occupied to think about taxing or regulating it to death yet. So for now, happy days!

Monday 17 June 2019

Investment in UK on a slight falling trend - Brexit certainty needed.

It can be hard to decipher what are the actual facts behing many statistics these days. Media which used to be seen as matters of record - like The Times and the FT - are now as partisan thanks to Brexit derangement syndrome.

A good example of this has come out over the past few days. Investment in the UK by businesses is a crucial part of the economy. For a long time UK investment has been low, thanks to huge supply of low cost workers and this has been a big driver of low UK productivity.

Now, recent surveys show that business investment in the UK will fall by 1.3% this year. As ever this is just blamed squarely on Brexit. A bigger driver, although related, it the huge fall in car production both in the UK and across the EU. Given the huge investment in car production facilities over the past 15 years had been on of the key drivers in investment growth, it is not surprising that when this turns negative it will materially impact the UK. Now, many car makers are rightly worried about just-in-time delivery under 'no-deal' terms. however, the collapse in car sales, the ruination of the diesel market and the need to invest in all electrical car production are major factors too.

Also, the FT was gleeful last week in saying how FDI was also falling (which, confusingly, also has overseas car makers in the mix - given they are both UK and overseas businesses at the same time). Except that you have to read carefully to fine that it is fallen 1% from and 18% EU share to 17%. And the UK is still the leader by a country mile. In fact, it really shows the UK is in rude health with Brexit fears being a very weak driver, if at all.

However, the overall picture is still of UK investment declining and Foreign Direct Investment declining. The uncertainty over Brexit and the political instability this has produced (thanks to the remain media establishment, like the FT!) is not helping. We might well at this stage in the cycle see a decline in Investment but to me what this shows is the Tory leaders are broadly right. 2019 needs to see a resolution of Brexit to reduce uncertainty. Once that has happened, it is likely investment will start to accelerate again subject to normal market environs (ie if there is a recession).

Saturday 15 June 2019

Rory is Magic!

Image result for magic fats
Rory Stewart dreams of being a real boy.

  After his surprise endorsement from the Daily Telegraph, hopeful for the Tory leadership race, Rory Stewart, has had to defend himself from criticism that he isn't actually a Tory at all.

Stewart's personal manifesto, promising a Rainbow Unicorn alternative ecological-pure thought parliament. Free, class A drugs, for students and former army officers. And replacing voting with throat chanting for candidates has attracted rave support from hippies and freaks and weirdos.

Rory, the slightly oddball looking, barefoot, Himalayan wanderer, has been likened to France's President Macron. Mostly by other Macron supporting globalists. 

But has also attracted some criticism from people who say he is not a true Tory.

"Look, I'm a real Tory, " Rory told the media. "It's just that some people, generally older, whiter, richer people, find the idea of a true patriotic Tory, being willing to bring down his own government and install Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street, a bit difficult to come to terms with."

Senior Tories have hinted that wet fish Rory is more of a Liberal Democrat than a Conservative. Mainly due to his stance on ecological and social issues and that he keeps saying "I'm a Liberal." 
Some have even suggested that Rory's surprisingly well funded leadership campaign, with a very credible, Facebook social media presence, is actually being run by Nick Clegg.

Image result for magic fats
Nick Clegg? I've never heard of him.

Rory responded by embarking on a flip-flop walking tour of the railway station car parks of England. Declaring "Look..Look at me..I can walk all by myself. There are no strings on me! Because I'm not that kind of puppet. I'm a totally different kind of puppet."

Thursday 13 June 2019

Zero-Carbon: May Screws Up her 'Legacy'

[Foreword - to those C@W readers who have apoplexy at the suggestion CO2 emissions contribute to climate change: the rights and wrongs of that issue have no bearing on what follows.]

The story so far:  a latter-day Childrens Crusade fronted by a cynically manipulated little Swedish girl, coupled with large-scale childish behaviour on the streets of London from grown adults who ought to know better, has made some raucous political music with demands for completely infeasible actions against UK CO2 emissions - specifically, zero CO2 by 2025.  Among several organisations to seize this opportunity, the Commitee on Climate Change (headed by the conflicted and disreputable "Lord Deben") rushed out its proposal for 'Net Zero Carbon by 2050'. 

These recommendations, properly viewed (i.e. politically viewed) were an absolute Godsend for the beleagured Tory government.
  1. Deben immediately defused the 2025 nonsense.  He is the man fronting an enormous report that had loads of pretty respectable input++ from business, industry, real scientists etc; and they all agree 2050 itself is quite stretch.  Deben was actually asked about 2025 on the telly, and he was contemptuously dismissive.  
  2. Consistent with 1 above, net-zero-2050 is notably more demanding (in the form the CCC wrote it) than any other nation has committed thus far.  Plenty of rich political capital can be coined from this.
  3. Nonetheless, 2050 is, well, rather a long way into the future ... a pretty decent entry into the Can-Kicking Championships
  4. Although the Labour Party greatly hoped to be steering the limelight towards itself, the best it could do in response was to replace "by 2050" with "before 2050".  (This is because some of them are seriously bidding for Actual Power, and fondly expect to be the ones to implement it.  And they, too, reckon 2050 is a stretch.)   
All in all, a gift for the distraction-seeking and legacy-craving Theresa May.  Quietly neutralise the jolly annoying Extinction Rebellion, as desired by ordinary people everywhere; and impress the young people by Doing Something Amazing for the planet.

There would have been so many ways to big this up and wow da yoof.  Top of the list would have been to say that the Deben proposals were not ambitious enough, and she was going to do something even more impressive: it wouldn't have been hard to come up with something.  (For 2050, you can say whatever you fancy - everyone else does.)  Nobody's going to vote against it in Parliament, are they?

But no.

Rather grumpily and with stupid caveats** that can be, and immediately are, used to damn her, she says "oh well, alright then".  Why insert a 5-year review?  Parliament can always review and change any legislation it fancies.  And anyway, 5-years-hence is Not Her Problem!  Why allow the buying of carbon credits to count towards the total?  This is so easily portrayed as a nasty little weasel (which indeed it is - international carbon credits are as bent as a nine-bob note); and again, 2050 is a long, long way off!  Details not required!

As every wise parent knows, when the kids have been kicking up for Disney and you've decided to take them, you don't say:  oh alright, bloody Disney it is, but you're not going on Space Mountain, there will be no ice cream, and at half-term I'm going to ask your teachers if you've been working hard, 'cos if you haven't I'm cancelling the tickets

Oh dear.  She ain't gonna enjoy her retirement.


++ We can discuss this another time
** This is said to be Hammond's doing - like so much of what has been baleful over the last three years.  His long-faced 'trillion pounds' objection is just rubbish.  Presumably, like an extensive line of men before him - Osborne, Hollande, Selmayr, Robbins ... the list goes on - he sat her down and told her sternly what she had to do.      

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Boris the Tax-Slayer

It is quite hard to consider the Tory party leadership election at all. We always think that today we are ruled by political pygmies - peoples' reputations take a while to settle in and most often not when they are in office. For example. Ed Balls was considered a fairly mid-level politician by now in comparison to the current Opposition front bench he is a colossus.

However, many of the runners and riders in the current Tory party are obviously not good Conservative Prime Minister material. From the Lilb Dem Rory Stewart, to the unhinged Andrea Leadsom (who is a good minister though, being of strong enough will to stop the civil service from doing nothing as per). It is not a very edifying field and the only good thing one can see is that for the Tories it allows them to hog the headlines.

But, there is Boris. I have serious doubts about his ability to be Prime Minister - I think it still says it all that Gove knifed him and ruined his own career, plus let in May, rather than let Boris who he knew so well grab the Crown. At least, by default, he is better than Corbyn.

Also there is his tax cut grab. Very sharp this, reducing taxes on people who earn £80k or less- just like the MP's that vote for him per chance? More seriously, it is a long time since anyone in the UK public arena seriously talked about cutting the high-burden of taxes. And high they are by all historical standards. Faced with Corbyn pledging to tax and spend, this is really the Tory answer that will resonate on the doorstep in an election with a big chunk of swing votes. Add it to the Northern leave vote if he can Brexit through and Boris is home and hosed. Of course, once he has got power, perhaps delivered a compromise Brexit, he will then have literally no idea what to do.

A peaceable couple of years of Government is long-overdue and will be most welcome to many.

Monday 10 June 2019

Naughtiest Prime Minister.


What's the naughtiest thing you've ever done?

Ran through fields of wheat?

Crashing the United Kingdom out of the European Union ?

Taken the UK into a Middle East war, for no real reason?

Sold the nation's entire reserves of gold on Ebay with no reserve bid?

Saying you spent all your time working on the dangerous dogs act. When the only dangerous dog you were seeing was the one your were having an extramarital affair with.

Replacing the most hated tax in the UK, the Rates,  with an even more hated one?

Running up so much money on the nation's credit card you had to call the IMF to help pay it off.

I'd suggest having a PM tripping on acid all day long would be doing the country less harm than some of the other things they might be planning.

For me, in my leadership bid to become PM, I cannot really think of what the naughtiest thing I've ever done is. 

There are quite a few. Which always surprises me as I'm usually so very good.

I was present when a sibling Monopoly game descended into gunfire.

I once piled up 100, 60x20 cardboard boxes. Having filled the cente ones with aerosols. And set them on fire. The Fire-brigade had to be caled to help put out all the trees that were burning.

I swapped all the house signs from people's gardens, walking home from school one day. People were furious.

I took part in the very first 'race around the M25'  when the motorway opened. And almost, almost had a severe accident when it turned out the damn thing wasn't completed at all. And there were still traffic lights in use at the Abbotts Langely section.

But I suppose being asked to leave my boarding school for an undisclosed incident, that really wasn't that bad, must be the naughtiest. And amongst people I knew at school, that was a really minor incident, compared to what they were up too.

What was your "Naughtiest moment?"

Corbyn Snorted Illicit Stuff, 'Fortunate Not To Be Jailed'

In preparing for his bid to be the next Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn has admitted he several times snorted something that sounded like an anti-semitic remark.  Anti-semitism is a Class-A hate crime and is illegal in many countries.  

He said it was during his earlier career as a no-hope backbencher, and that he did it because "everyone was doing it at the parties I went to in those days.  It gives you a wonderful 'boosted vote' feeling, but I've been told to say I know it's wrong."   

He agreed he was lucky to have escaped jail, and that it might have affected his ability to travel in the USA: it is required on a US visa application to make a declaration about involvement with banned political movements associated with the Holocaust. 

He went on: "While we are on the subject, I should add that I occasionally smoked some of that marxist dope, but it had no effect on me, because I didn't take it in."  Mr Corbyn is known to be not very bright, and failed his A-levels. 

Friends of Corbyn insist none of these things disqualify him from becoming PM.  One leading Shadow Chancellor said: "if smoking that dope disqualifies him, there's no hope for any of us".


Friday 7 June 2019

Peterborough - What happened?
The new Labour MP has the lowest share of the vote for an MP, ever. Volatile times, but uncertainty and change are not guaranteed.
Labour held off the Brexit challenge. An impressive feat as it was assumed a loss was on the cards. Vote dropped dramatically. But they were fighting under some of the hardest conditions, with the biggest disadvantages due to candidates, that they will face. If they could hold on here, they can hold on elsewhere.
The Brexit Party did extremely well. Suffering gloom today really through expectation management failure. They don't have the resources or the organisation to ensure a victory. They will win some and they will lose some in the coming fights.

The Tories, though having a nightmare, are also currently, probably, at the low point of their fortunes. The failed May too toxic to make an appearance during the campaign. Managing to still keep 7,000 votes was a result of sorts. In that, it could, and should, have been even worse.

The Lib Dems got half the vote they got in 2010. The idea that a second referendum will win Labour many more seats than it loses, is a proven myth. The yellow surge is back to what it always used to be. Protest votes. And rich metropolitan or student areas. The Liberals former rural strongholds have not come back to them.
The clear message for anyone who wants to see it is,
1. Split Right Wing voters will allow Labour to keep its seats. And may allow them to pick up a few more. And they don't need many to form a rainbow coalition of idiocy. A Corbyn premiership is more likely, rather than less, after the result.

2. For the same reasons the screech of the majority Remain Labour MPs may be ignored a while longer as the losses sustained under JC may be subsiding. Labour Remain have been chipping away at Corbyn. Telling the Great Oz he cannot become leader of the un-free world, unless he embraces second referendum and no brexit. The Politburo need no longer have doubts in their dedication to the teachings of Corbynism.

3. For Farage, he has achieved a fantastic result. And characteristically diminished it through over promising and a slightly odd decision to not treat the result as a huge victory, if it was or not.
The new, more focused, single, simple, Trumpian messaging, is working. 
Previously UKIP was all over the place, all the time. Electoral reform. Immigration. Taxation. Privatisation. Deportation. Attacking Parliament. The NHS and the BBC and the media on as many issues as they could find. A strategy for getting noticed, to be sure. But one that seemed to stop paying off around 12% of the population. 
He is beyond that already.

The Brexit Party had all the advantages, except the most important one. Data. 
They cannot be as effective as their rivals without it. 
As it stands, TBP can win some seats from the Tories. But perhaps only enough to destroy them both.
 Somehow, Farage is going to need to hire the very best ground pounder and data manager in the business. 

I doubt he will call Dominic Cummings. 
I doubt Cummings will answer his phone, if he did. 
4. For the Tories, Judgement Day is here. There can be no more hiding behind the sofa and hoping the whole ghastly Brexit experience will just go away. The Peterborough Tory -29%, contrasts with the Brexit Parties +25%. To survive, Brexit must be delivered.
Not ignored. Or delayed. Or postponed or negotiated. But delivered. The only wriggle room is in how satisfactory to general leavers the exit need be. 
Any attempt to plant another false Leaver at the helm will be disastrous. Any attempt to avoid a decision by the next election will also be a disaster. 
 Every delay or deadline extension will just add more votes to the Brexit Party side of the electoral justice scales.
Appointing a die hard leaver might also be a disastrous strategy. As might a hard exit. But it might not. 
Three years wasted under May leaves little in the playbook but a massive show of courage, bluff and a Hail Mary pass. 
But it is now certain that unless Brexit can be removed as an issue, the election will be lost. And lost very badly. John Major levels of defeat.

5. Liberals. As with the BP, always worth remembering that a Euro election is not a Westminster one. It will take more than just loving Europe to be a force. Like the Brexit Party they are still doing very well, considering where they were. The Liberals have an opportunity to rebrand and from a better position than Labour or the Tories. 
Outgoing, ageing, Venerable Vince gets a clock and handshake, and enjoys his retirement. Incoming, youthful, millennial, female, young-mum feminist, Jo, comes in. Loads of media attention and new broom ideas. A rare chance for a second political chance for the Liberals.
A summary from the person who is having their last ever day as leader of the current Tory Party.



Thursday 6 June 2019

Euroland updates

One interesting side-effect of Brexit has been the sharp drop in interest in the actual runnings of the EU. Now that the #FBPE crowd are all around, there can be no criticism of 'the project' to do so is to undermine everything.

And on the Brexiteers side, having sort of won the vote, the focus on just how rubbish aspects of the EU are has fallen away - sadly in favour of infighting and mass navel gazing.

Two current issues demand some attention. The first is economic, as we approach the top of the cycle (sadly for much of Europe as EU members have stagnated for over a decade, shame), members need to get their act together. Italy is the key concern - it has a debt to GDP ration of 130% and increasing. The new populist Government is trying tax cuts to remedy the austerity which has not worked for them for 10 years. The jury is out as to whether it will work, but abandoning the policy chosen by the Bundesbank EU Central bank is not going down well. There are real threats of fines as well as much hand-wringing. Longer-term, France owns a third of Italy's debt - should Italy go the way of Greece we will have 2011 Euro run part two, run harder!

Then there is the result of the EU elections - without going into the huge detail here is an excellent article on Politico.

My main takeaways from that are the EU is entirely made up of smoke-filled rooms and driven by the whimsy of Merkel and Macron - but only at a distance. The likely EU President of Guy Verhofstadt should be enough to even make Remainers take a sharp breath - the guy is a maniacal integrationst zealot. The democratic will of the EU - increasing the share of anti-EU parties in Parliament only to see the most pro-integration President ever get elected in the back room deals - seems to be a winding river indeed.

Remaining will be such fun!

Wednesday 5 June 2019

From the dark side to the depths

Thank you to co-writer ND for keeping the blog going this past few weeks. CU has been busy with a career change which has resulted in needing to spend time focusing on a bit the day job of capitalism.

However, I return refreshed to see the Tories in true meltdown. Just yesterday the slightly strange Andrea Leadsom announced that she would drive No-Deal Brexit through by proroguing Parliament. This means to stop Parliament from meeting for a few months. Whilst constitutionally possible, it would be a national outrage to try this.

I mean, I know the Tories are not going to get much in the way of votes at the next General Election, but this stunt would completely ruin them. It says Conservatives on the tin, the electorate do not expect to get radical illiberalism instead.

Having said that, I have some sympathy with the thinking behind this position. Clearly the current parliament has tried and failed to pass any deal for Brexit and voted to avoid a no-deal Brexit; the circle cannot be squared. This way at least moves to try to end this impasse. However, in reality to do so without an election is nonsensical. An election is the obvious route if there is no way through Parliament - this is what the constitutional principles would suggest. To avoid an election would be an abomination and the next time there was one there would be a high price to pay indeed.

Also, though, Leadsom is helpfully signalling that the issue is indeed the Remain parliament and not the Tory party. Yes the Tories are split, but the failure of Labour or any other party to vote for anything deliverable is the real cause of the current mess. Sadly, this will be lost in the messaging.

In any event, the Tories are not going to be choosing Leadsom - it seems to me the choice will rapidly boil down to another remain-pretender in Jeremy Hunt or the unknowable quantity that is Boris Johnson.

I am not sure they will even make it as Prime Minister more than a few days if the DUP and Tory rebels vote against a motion of no confidence.

Tough times for the Tories, a Brexit party by-election win is not going to clam them down this week - it perhaps shows the path to their imminent destruction when there is a 2019 General Election.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Boiling the Pot, Stirring the Pot

Busy this week, I'm afraid - and CU + BQ are really busy.

So, by way of a pot-boiler, have a read of this: another item of evidence in our occasional series lamenting the idiocies of university lefties of the identitarian woke-snowflake generation.
 ... scepticism about the rights of marginalised groups and individuals, where issues of life and death are at stake, are [sic] not up for debate. The existence and validity of transgender and non-binary people, and the right of trans and non-binary people to identify their own genders and sexualities, fall within the range of such indisputable topics
What level is Academia sinking to?!  I'm pleased to say that the Aristotelian Society, which is the target of this outrageous attack, is sticking firmly to its guns and continuing to promote the lecture that is enraging these people so.

PS, what a great set of names, those signatories, eh?  Amy Conkerton-Darby; Puck Oseroff-Spicer; Lizzy Ventham; Jingyi Wu ... (Anyone ever read Peter Simple?


Monday 3 June 2019

Labour's Energy Nationalisation Plans: Interesting Stuff

Even if Extinction Rebellion didn't pull off its attempted election-night stunt, everybody has been much taken by their efforts - note how the annoying government Smart-Meter advertising campaign is trying to hitch its wagon to them; and there's even a Graun article here suggesting that if they seriously want to save the world, da green yoof should, errr, join a union!  (Actually they should clean up after themselves and curb their rampant plastic-oriented consumerism ...)

The Labour Party is fairly troubled by the electoral manifestation of this Green surge, and is rushing to outbid everyone else in its *promises*.  Noting the universal scorn for the ER's "zero carbon by 2020", they are toying with a 2030 target.  Ah well: as one of the ER demonstrators said to a TV interviewer: this is no time to be realistic.

Far more significantly, under this green smokescreen they are also planning to renationalise the gas and electricity transmission grids and distribution networks (DNOs).  For hardcore C@W readers, if you give even half a chance to there ever being a Labour government with McDonnell holding the reins this is a subject for serious study.
  1. Choice of target.  Assuming (as we must) that McDonnell actually intends ultimately to nationalise far more than this, the Grid + DNOs is quite a shrewd starting point, politically speaking, for getting his ball rolling.  Not many people carry a torch for this lot.  They are natural monopolies.  They are still under public ownership in many EU countries, so it's hard to claim nationalisation will obviously be disastrous, or fundamentally contra to EU law.  They are asset-rich, really easy to finance (guaranteed, regulated revenues) and heavily unionised.  Many are owned by wicked foreigners.  (And, frankly, several of the DNOs have pig-shit thick management.)
  2. Paying for it.  They are a bit vague on this, musing that perhaps they don't need to "pay compensation" (morally speaking, that is - because the wicked shareholders have been ripping us all off for decades); but then again, maybe (legally speaking) they do.  However this plays out, they'd be exchanging equity for government bonds.  They've obviously taken some fairly well-informed accounting advice and reckon it will be neutral as regards government borrowing.
  3. Grand plans.   You need to read the stuff to get the full measure of this, because it's far from a simple change of ownership they have in mind.  Briefly, it is intended as a springboard for getting councils, unions and 'local communities' in on the action, with control of energy distribution being atomised into at very least several hundred local authority-based mini-regions, but ultimately down to thousands of micro-regions: cooperatives, housing estates, business parks etc etc.  (These must be sufficiently 'open and democratic': wealthy gated communities or fat-cat County-set windfarmers need not apply.)  All with 'maximal union involvement', natch.  Plus a bizarre edifice of regulation and governance - which will be much needed: this is gas & electricity we're talking about!
  4. "Rationale".  The ostensible reasons for doing this are threefold.  (A) reduce costs to the consumer - because coupon for bondholders will be less than divi, and managament salaries will be slashed.  (B) Facilitate the Green Revolution - because the Grid and DNOs have been dragging their feet.  (C) Democratisation and local participation.  Curiously, they don't admit to outright doctrinaire bullshit, though it's not particularly disguised, either.
What to think?   The electricity industry holds a particular fascination for leninists and stalinists like McDonnell - it is sometimes said that leninism was marxism plus electricity, and the whiff of the industrial soviet is easily detected here.  But personally I'm by no means horror-struck, if this to be as we are promised one of the first acts of a Corbyn government.

a)  it will quickly bog down in protracted legal challenges over (i) compo, and (ii) compatibility with some very complex EU regulations covering the fundamentally complex electricity sector.  (Of course, these are illustrations of why Corbyn et al want out of the EU.  But any forseeable 'deal' won't let them off these hooks at all quickly; and No Deal will leave them with No Time for ideological indulgences like this.)  

b)  even if they can get past a), the sheer practical difficulties involved in the fatuous Grand Plan aspects will ensure nothing much changes in substance for a long, long time.  People really do insist on a continuous electricity supply!   And mostly, they have not the faintest idea how difficult it is.

c)  rationales A and B are non-starters.  I just mention this for completeness, really.  Costs will of course go up, not least because staff numbers will go through the roof as soon as they try C, plus the 'maximal union involvement' thing.  And no amount of well-meaning 'local community' enthusiasm will kick-start the Green Revolution, which will need to be a tightly-managed, highly technical affair.

All in all, we should be entirely delighted if this crazy scheme, which has obvious superficial attractions for all manner of lefty-greens, were to absorb all their energies right from the start of a New Regime.  A bigger distraction from more damaging potential forms of political meddling could hardly be imagined.  And of all the many baleful things McDonnell is plotting, this lunacy is by far the easiest to throw into reverse.

Keep watching this one: it's interesting.